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« Climate Control in the Scottish Express | Main | Some like it not - Josh 270 »
Tuesday
Apr152014

More from Markram

Following on from Frontiers' recent statement about the retraction of the Lewandowsky paper, the journal's editor Henry Markram has left a comment giving his personal views of the affair (H/T Paul Matthews):

My own personal opinion: The authors of the retracted paper and their followers are doing the climate change crisis a tragic disservice by attacking people personally and saying that it is ethically ok to identify them in a scientific study. They made a monumental mistake, refused to fix it and that rightfully disqualified the study. The planet is headed for a cliff and the scientific evidence for climate change is way past a debate, in my opinion. Why even debate this with contrarians? If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically? Why help the ostriches of society (always are) keep their heads in the sand? Why not focus even more on the science of climate change? Why not develop potential scenarios so that society can get prepared? Is that not what scientists do? Does anyone really believe that a public lynching will help advance anything? Who comes off as the biggest nutter? Activism that abuses science as a weapon is just not helpful at a time of crisis.

There is at least some common ground.

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Reader Comments (90)

Quick answer to all Markham's "whys?" is because nothing significant is really happening to climate and there is no substantive science on the alarmist side of the debate. Hence the abstract pr drivel of Lew and co.

However, if I'm wrong, then I hope Markram does us all a service by turning up here for a debate of the actual science upon which he has based his opinion that there is a "crisis".

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Oh Dear.
Markram doesn't think Lewandowsky should call us conspiracy ideationists. He prefers to call us ostriches. He doesn't think we deserve a public lynching, It's “just not helpful at a time of crisis”, not when “the planet is headed for a cliff”.
In other words, He disagrees with Lewandowsky about the tactics that should be used to silence us.

I find his comment as disturbing as anything Lewandowsky has said.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Clearly, Markram has not bothered to read any of the sceptical science blogs, or scientific papers.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Two wrongs don't make a right!
Both Lewandowsky and Markram are as bad as each other, if they want to squabble so be it but both are as far away from science as each other.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I agree that personal attacks on people who do not support the party line is pointless.

Markram clearly does support the party line. However he rather spoils his position on the higher ground with his comments about the ostriches of society.

He clearly knows nothing about climate science, its uncertainties and its political manipulation. Sadly. he is criticising Lewandowsky while doing something similar himself.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterSC

Ostriches eh
Dare I say, it takes one to know one and it is even easier when they
identify themselves.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

We might be about to enter a period of the 'faked middle'.

Exremists and ideologues are always the useful starting point for big statists. If they win a given argument outright and society acquiesces then they have done their job. If, however, society begins to see them and their lunatic arguments for what it is, the 'fake middle' then steps in. "Yes, yes", they say. "Of course they have gone TOO far. But we do need to still do X. We are listening to everyone..."

They sound reasonable to society but they still get what they want. In reality they are just the lunatics wearing a slightly less frightening hat.

The ratchet effect clicks a few more notches closer to their goal.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

'Frontiers', it would seem, is a misnomer. This sort of talk is not at the frontier of science, but well beyond it, out in the wilds where mere logic, reason, observation, and experiment have been left behind in favour of slogans, rituals, and group chants. Such as the planet is heading for a cliff. What kind of mental image is that? What ignorance of orbits, space scales, cliffs, and planets. And as for scientific evidence of climate change, a simple history book, or a conversation with an older and wiser person would suffice for some timescales. I can't decide between 'Intellectual Wilderness' and 'Beyond the Pale' as to which would be the better name for this journal.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:43 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Note that Richard Betts was here a couple of days ago saying the science isn't settled and no scientist ever said it was, so the debate continues, not least in the reports of the IPCC, where things change as time marches on.

Anybody who characterises the debate as over is afraid to put his prejudices to the test.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

I can applaud someone standing up to the alarmist bullies, but I think his words show him as somewhat gullable.

"The planet is headed for a cliff and the scientific evidence for climate change is way past a debate, in my opinion. Why even debate this with contrarians? If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically?"

Opinion? What about evidence! I see Markram is another person who thinks we should not debate with people who have different "opinions" - isn't that what science is all about!

"Why not debate scientifically?" - well the alarmists are too cowardly to debate as they know they will look like chimps to the public! Think of the billions lost in funding if the public knew how incompetent they were.

"....... ok to identify them in a scientific study" - Lewandowsky's work was anything but scientific!

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Overall, I liked his comment. The beginning is good, the middle bit unfortunate but the ending is a cracker. Hopefully, calling for an open debate on the science will gain traction because with that comes the death of climate alarmism.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Mr Markram's comments confirm the impression I had gained from the statements from Frontiers, that the only reason the retraction was made was because names had been named. Otherwise,as far as the magazine is concerned, there is nothing wrong, scientifically or philosophically,with Lewandowsky's paper.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:50 AM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

cliff and nutter.

Not a cliff any us will be viewing for an awful long time. Seeing the term "biggest nutter" simply points at this persons difficulty with language.

"Why not develop potential scenarios so that society can get prepared?"

Would that be leaving the peoples of the world (India/Africa/China...) to remain in rotting filthy/hopeless conditions with just about any appointed official leeching as much Foreign Aid as is possible?

This particular science is a curse along with its torch bearers. What a pr*ck !!

Reddit, dislikedit, deletedit.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

I think the key statement in Markram's comment is:

"They made a monumental mistake, refused to fix it and that rightfully disqualified the study."

Markram says the ethical issues (identification) were a monumental mistake and that Lewandowsky and co-authors refused to fix it. This is different to the story being spun by Lewandosky and Nuccitelli in which they are repeating ad nauseum that they changed the paper as per Frontier's requests. Clearly in the eyes of Frontiers they had not. Until and unless there is full disclosure of documents we will never know.

I'm not interested in Markram's personal opinions on climate change and the fact he thinks the time for debate is over. They are no more coherent or cogent than those we hear about everyday amongst the 'metropolitan intelligentsia' so ably represented by the Guardian, Independent and BBC. They represent lazy and vacuous thinking. He is one of the sheep following the flock like many others.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

This is an interesting comment because it shows that despite his opinion that we are 'headed for a cliff', which as Paul D says show that he's just following the flock, his view of the fundamental ethical issue of naming and labelling people without their consent is exactly the same as that expressed in the complaint letters written by Steve, Barry, Jo, Foxgoose, me and others.

Could I urge that if people want to comment on the Frontiers thread, please stick to the ethics issue, as Geoff has done in his latest comment - please don't start trying to persuade Markram that he's wrong about climate science, there's no point and it will just muddy the main issue.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Henry just needs to make the next step and realise that Lew’s behaviour isn’t that odd for CAGW activists, amongst whom some of the most vocal climate change scientists reside. They have a pattern. Make some dubious claim, far beyond what the evidence shows; impress the climate change community; get criticised by someone, but especially well known sceptics; circle the wagons; refuse to admit there is a mistake; and publicly label those who bring up the flaw as mad, bad or dangerous.

He will know how forensically Lew’s work was examined by Steve M and several others. Despite any intemperate piling on by less precise sceptics or fury by the climatarti, it doesn’t devalue the key complaints. Henry needs to realise that the same attention to detail has been given to certain aspects of climate science and its solutions. Now adding up all the excellent scepticism and ignoring the bad, might not pull CAGW down but it does make a case for significant independent scrutiny. If an unpaid, part time, volunteer audit can poke holes in the consensus, what would an appointed team do?

If AGW is the most important issue of our time, shouldn’t we make sure that it has standards that are at least as rigorous and open to question as a psychology journal? Mistakes are inevitable in cutting edge science, the trick is how you deal with those flaws. Climate science doesn’t make mistakes or so 97% of scientists and their loyal followers would have us believe.

Henry Markum is typical of those who haven't looked beyond the headlines on AGW. I just wonder what it would take to make them apply basic caution to the hype.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Rhoda~ richard betts claims no one ever said 'the science is settled'?

Does he really need the ENTIRE list of alarmists who have made that claim, posted?

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Henry,
When the quality of your own science improves, you might be in a position to lecture others.
The quality of much climate work is so poor that I refuse to call it science.
Remember, there is still no pivotal paper that makes a quantitative, reproducible link between the concentration of CO2 (or GHG in general) and the magnitude of any consequent temperature rise in the global atmosphere.
................
As a journal editor, of course you are concerned with delivering a message. That is a source of a problem.

Science communication is about delivering a message.
Good science is about delivering the goods.

You should be investigating the failure of your peer review system to deliver the goods, with a view to improvement.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Maybe Markham could exercise his critical thinking and ponder WHY people like Lewandowsky and indeed "climate scientists" feel the need to personally attack those who wish to raise issues, errors or generally debate the science?

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Mr Markham seems to be waving his inflammatory alarmist banner with terms like "climate change crisis" & "the planet is headed for a cliff"! Not even the IPCC has used quite those excitable expressions! They certainly wouldn't be the choice of a cool calm & collected fellow, me thinks! I can see he's created a new slogan ready for immediate use by the greenalist band, CCC! Beats AGW into a cocked hat. However, for what I have observed in the available data, is that when the atmosphere possessed 19 times the amount of CO2 is has today at c7000ppmv, the Earth cooled significantly & we had ice-ages! There was no runaway Greenhouse effect. So, if is didn't happen before under such conditions, why on Earth, is it apparently going to happen now with a mere 550ppmv? It doesn't make any sense to this simple structural engineer!

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

I don't doubt Markrams sincerity about his stance on climate orthodoxy, it is actually interesting that he makes his point so strongly. Since if someone cares this much about the underlying subject *and* shows this sudden indication of waking up and smelling the coffee about the direction of crazy self indulgent climate activism directed at demonising small groups, then there is hope that he and others will maintain this stance and take more notice in future.

This is pretty damning of Lewandowsky and by implication much of the Oreskes, Cook canon; and, to borrow some dramatic rhetoric I think it could mark a tipping point ;)

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Henry,
When the quality of your own science improves, you might be in a position to lecture others.
The quality of much climate work is so poor that I refuse to call it science.
Remember, there is still no pivotal paper that makes a quantitative, reproducible link between the concentration of CO2 (or GHG in general) and the magnitude of any consequent temperature rise in the global atmosphere.
................
As a journal editor, of course you are concerned with delivering a message. That is a source of a problem.

Science communication is about delivering a message.
Good science is about delivering the goods.

You should be investigating the failure of your peer review system to deliver the goods, with a view to improvement.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

To be fair to Henry, he can't express an iota of support for climate scepticism or Lew's rejected paper would be forgotten and it would all be about the consensus.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Otter
One could interpret Richards Betts' words as meaning that the people on your list cannot be scientists. Unlikely that's what he meant if he said it, perhaps Mr Betts could clarify?

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Otter, no, the story from RB is no SCIENTIST ever said that. Usually any direct quote is from an activist. I think it's triangulation but that's just me.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Here's the science is settled bit from the Fleshing Out thread now on page 2..

In response to this from Tom Mason:

"Surely this is old research as all the folks at the IPCC know everything about climate science is settled science, therefore this must be already allowed for by this UN organisation"

RB wrote this:

*******
No they don't - which is why IPCC authors use phrases like 'high confidence' and 'low confidence'. If "everything was settled" then it would all be 'certain'!

The potential for solar influences on climate to help with near-term forecasting is very interesting, see for example this paper by some Met Office colleagues of mine.

The ideas that (a) scientists claim "the science is settled" and (b) solar influences are ignored by climate researchers are both strawmen.

*****

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

"Activism that abuses science as a weapon is just not helpful at a time of crisis."

... or at any other time I would have thought.

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

I like this approach. Frontiers is fortifying against Lewandowsky et al behind the cover of ... consensus. ;)

Apr 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Registered Commentershub

taking Paul Matthews very good advice I added this comment:


Henry:
ref - "Who comes off as the biggest nutter? "

Indeed!

ie John Cook, kept photoshopped pictures of himself as Himmler, with the Nazi badges and photo shopped and replaced with the Skeptical Science logo.. how do you think the 'contrarians' feel about being researched by John?

This is all about peoples perceptions and perhaps you have limited information. Prof Lewandowsky, Michael Marriott and John Cook (founder of) are all involved with the Skeptical Science website. This website exists to attack 'sceptics'. This has a private moderators forum called SKSforum.org which is owned and administered by John Cook (co-author of Fury)

A while back their images directory was made publically available( sloppy web admin, as google was able to cache it, NO hacking) wayback machine captured it here:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130806172838/http://www.sksforum.org/images/a11g0n3/

They eventually secured the forum, but not before the images were made widely seen by an utterly bemused 'sceptical' audience. Copies have been stored at the WUWT website

HerrCook: ( Himmler photoshopped with John's face, not the attention to detail SkS logo on the cap badge, etc)

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/1_herrcook.jpg

and the 1930's infamous Nuremburg rally photo, shopped with SkS logos on the flags!
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/skstroopers_marked.jpg

John Cook (co-author) also had photoshopped pictures mocking sceptics,
including Anthony Watts (named in the Fury paper)

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/monkeys.jpg

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/weareskeptics1.jpg

So who are the 'nutters' here.

Frontiers have been blindsided by 'researchers' that are perceived to be political activists on the subject of climate change, setting a few scores with their opponents and critics. At least that is the perception many people have.

John Cook/Prof Lewandowsky are no doubt briefing Dana Nuccitelli (a Skeptical Science super admin, and author) about their side of the 'story' who is now using his Guardian blog to attack Frontiers... Maybe Frontiers lawyers should check that agreement with the authors, very carefully, as Dana seems to be a proxy of the authors to attack Frontiers

Apr 15, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Quote from Paul Dennis:

"I'm not interested in Markram's personal opinions on climate change and the fact he thinks the time for debate is over. They are no more coherent or cogent than those we hear about everyday amongst the 'metropolitan intelligentsia' so ably represented by the Guardian, Independent and BBC. They represent lazy and vacuous thinking. He is one of the sheep following the flock like many others."

Thank you - excellent summary.

Apr 15, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"Why not debate the science?"

Yes, I think a lot of us have been wondering about that!

Apr 15, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

@Mr Markham

...The planet is headed for a cliff and the scientific evidence for climate change is way past a debate, in my opinion. Why even debate this with contrarians? If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically? Why help the ostriches of society (always are) keep their heads in the sand? Why not focus even more on the science of climate change?

Mr Markham has a point. WHY is there this debate?

There are a number of areas where there is disagreement though the science is as 'settled' as it can be (until we discover something new, of course). For instance, we currently have a general consensus over:

- the Earth being round
- the Theory of Evolution
- the Planetary development of the Solar System

even though there are established and organised dissenting views on these subjects - some very well funded. And yet there is no huge debate - the consensus co-exists quite happily with them. What is so special about the 'climate' that means it is debated with such fury?

The answer, of course, is that the climate debate is political. Not scientific.

Apr 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

I like to think that Markram will continue contemplating the matter.

That high profile researchers in his own field of psychology will make the most elementary errors, and persistently and loudly refuse to correct them, should give him pause for thought.

That his journal should have failed to correct these errors during the peer review process will also be a source of personal embarrassment. However, it may also occur to him that other disciplines may not be free of such errors.

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Is there a consensus that his name is correctly spelled as Markram, not Markham?

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

This is endgame stuff albeit just a bit of infighting, it was always going to be that group of 'make it up as you go along' pushers (Lewandowsky, Cook and Nutticelli) who were going to be shoved under the bus first.

They don't fit in any true scientific discipline and now they are being thrown out of post normal science.

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Spence

A study of mass hysteria would make an ideal paper for Frontiers of Psychobabble.

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Who comes off as the biggest nutter? .
Good question, especially as it took "the ostriches of society" to point out "a monumental mistake"

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:37 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I guess we can't expect any skeptical paper about climate change to appear in Frontiers then. They ask us to get published if we are to have any credibility in a debate but they refuse to publish anything on the basis of their "point of view" about the debate already being over. It is scientific publishing that is heading off a cliff - and good riddance!

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Climate Science parallels to Ponzi/pyramid schemes
..The top salesman at the top are on message with CERTAINTY
..however for the rest of the people in the pyramid :
.... the LESS they understand the more CERTAIN they are

..this explains Markram's attitude, we can see he is just not widely read or experienced with the field

Apr 15, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

It's very subtle, but the good Markram is painting a way out of this mess. If the chickens keep their heads in the ground they won't be headless.
==============

Apr 15, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Ostriches have been around for a long time, they must be doing something right.

Apr 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke in Central Illinois

I found it very telling that the analogy Markram uses to provide context for his editorial self justification is in fact a myth..."Why even debate this with contrarians? If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically? Why help the ostriches of society (always are) keep their heads in the sand?"...an apt reflection of his 'scientific' rhetoric.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostrich;
"Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in sand to avoid danger. This myth likely began with Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), who wrote that ostriches "imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed." This may have been a misunderstanding of their sticking their heads in the sand to swallow sand and pebbles, or, as National Geographic suggests, of the defensive behavior of lying low, so that they may appear from a distance to have their head buried."

Apr 15, 2014 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Norman

An Ostrich with its head below ground level is normally turning its eggs or tending its chicks. Their nests are dug out to a couple feet below ground level.

Here are some Ostrich facts.
http://www.ostriches.org/factor.html

Apr 15, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Koss

I quite like Markram's comment. OK the cliff bit is silly, but he doesn't demand, he asks why:

If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically?

The answer to Markram's question is simple, because the scientific evidence is far from clear cut, and recent temperatures show that the models predicting said cliff are wrong. That is why Lewandowsky and friends use smear rather than scientific debate.

Agree with Paul Matthews, though. Badly behaving climate scientists (Mann, Gleick, etc) usually get away with things that other scientists would not. This is an opportunity to pin Lewandowsky down in a way he cannot wriggle out of - that represents a change of tone in the debate, and a very welcome one. It is worth winning the narrow battle over ethics in this case to set a precedent by which activist scientists are held to the same standards as the rest of us.

Apr 15, 2014 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Markram is certainly right to hold that using psychology to study climate change is a waste of time. His observation may be more relevant than he knew: didn't Steve McIntyre find Lewandowsky stating in a blog that one of the benefits of his antics was to make climate "deniers" waste their time? Maybe it's time to consign Lew to an obscure footnote.

Apr 15, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Strom

Spence_UK: Exactly right. Because Markram was not prepared to step over a line in his own field, and because climate science in its alarmist form was so weak in itself that it tried to co-opt psychology, we now have a real corrective for the 'vanguard' - beginning, deservedly, with co-authors Lewandowsky and Mann. All because one man refused to step over a line.

James Strom: I think it's proving better than a waste of time, because Mann hitched his wagon to Lew, as did a number of climate alarmists in the MSM. A car crash completely of their own making; another turn-off for the open-minded.

Apr 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Is Markram aware of these publications, both of which are solidly-based on the mainstream scientific literature, and both of which challenge the IPCC SPMs?:

Physical Science: http://heartland.org/media-library/pdfs/CCR-II/CCR-II-Full.pdf

Biological Impacts: http://heartland.org/media-library/pdfs/CCR-IIb/Full-Report.pdf

Apr 15, 2014 at 2:46 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

It is now two weeks since Dr Ms McKewon, the well qualified peer-reviewer of Fury, wrote a piece for the Conversation - The journal that gave in to climate deniers' intimidation. It sent the boyz'n'gal commenters there into paroxysms of ... erm.. fury. 183 comments before they were closed.

Lewandowsky (in particular), Cook and Nuccitelli are all contributors to the Conversation but not a peep from any of them. But maybe they have peeped and the Conversation editors realised they've been made to look like a bunch of tossers by publishing McKewon's diatribe before Frontier's retractions and are being a bit more circumspect this time.

Apr 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

JS (2:46pm) - Undoubtedly no he won't be aware of them.

But he's hardly alone. Almost anyone without a background in one of the hard sciences can be excused for accepting that it's all solidly based. I don't think there has been any sort of precedent for what is, after all, a branch of physical science to have been so thoroughly taken over by nonscientists who have convinced both themselves and the world at large that they are doing (in the words of Phil Jones) "good science".

Apr 15, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Having retracted a paper for personally attacking a group of protagonists in a debate of public importance, he now evidently wants to rehabilitate himself with the authors' allies by mounting his own personal attacks on the same protagonists in a debate of public importance. And all of this is supposed to demonstrate his commitment to scientific ethics. We know he is committed to scientific ethics because he slams Lewandowsky et al. for "saying that it is ethically ok to identify [research subjects] in a scientific study." Yet his first statement on the matter said "Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study." His moral compass seems awfully sensitive to which way the wind is blowing.

Apr 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss McKitrick

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