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« Delaware's FOIbles | Main | Me at the Spectator »
Monday
May192014

Quote of the day, Nature edition

My default position toward Nature...at least for earth and environmental science papers, has shifted from innocent until proven guilty, to roughly the opposite. I just don’t believe what they claim until I’ve read the paper involved closely, and since I don’t have time to do that, that means I basically don’t accept what they claim. I’ve just seen too much bad science and I don’t trust them to be fully objective and place scientific veracity over hype and headline. Sorry.

Jim Bouldin, an ecologist from UC Davis

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Reader Comments (38)

I have suggested that he might consider joining the GWPF Advisory Board. I believe there is a vacancy.

May 19, 2014 at 6:08 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Sadly I'm exactly the same as jim Bouldin, although my scepticism goes further than just nature publication. I now no longer accept what any scientist claims in a paper which needs a media announcement to accompany it, unless it is independently verified by people with no connections to those who produced the paper.

May 19, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAbc

Can we count that as a peer review for all the papers in it. And it isn't even anonymous.

May 19, 2014 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

That's a quote that's 'less than helpful' about Nature. In other words, 'astute'.

May 19, 2014 at 6:19 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Put a paper to Nature Climate Change; the reply in 48 hours, the fastest in history, was that the mathematics, nothing more than A-level, was too complex for its readership. Sort of summarises it all; it's a comic.

May 19, 2014 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurnedoutnice

It really pains me to say this, but ditto BBC.

May 19, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Robinson

I suspect many people reached Jim's level of scepticism a long time ago.
I blame artificially high enrolment targets for university students.
Seriously.

May 19, 2014 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterHG54

I'm a fan of Jim Bouldin and his blog, but can I gently suggest that his blog would not benefit from an influx of angry readers? At the moment people only comment there if their comment is genuinely on topic to the (frequently quite technical) thread, which makes it a peaceful sort of place.

May 19, 2014 at 6:37 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Nature Climate Change, remind me what happens to this jounral should AGW be proved BS?
Expecting this jounral to honest in area is like expecting dogs lover weekly magazine to write an article telling how cats make better pets.

May 19, 2014 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

You can, of course, say the same thing about the Guardian. Admittedly that is not setting the bar very high because it is just a newspaper, not one of the world's leading scientific journals. Earlier today I submitted a comment on an article in the Guardian about the Bengtsson affair.

Rejected climate science paper contained errors, says publisher
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/16/rejected-climate-science-paper-environmental-research-letters

In my comment I mentioned the University of Queensland threats against Brandon Schollenberger and suggested that Guardian readers should support Schollenberger because the Guardian is traditionally in favour of leaks, e.g. those of Snowdon.

Where my comment was there is now a statement saying: This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards.

There was nothing remotely offensive in my comment, unless the word "Guardianista" is regarded as offensive by the Guardian. I think it more likely that any comment that too blatantly contradicts the Guardian line is regarded as offensive.

Immediately after removing my comment the moderators added a statement saying:

Comments for this discussion are now closed.

May 19, 2014 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I blame artificially high enrolment targets for university students.
Seriously.

May 19, 2014 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterHG54

and I agree. I said some time ago that the high numbers of student meant finding things to do after they graduate and since work is difficult to find with a geography, geology, sustainabilty etc degree they have to be found lab tech jobs with the unis which means letting them do Masters etc.

May 19, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Roy:

Comments for this discussion are now closed.
Tee-hee. That is the definitive acknowledgement that commenters are getting too far off the party line that the mods cannot keep up.

May 19, 2014 at 7:18 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I now no longer accept what any scientist claims in a paper which needs a media announcement to accompany it, unless it is independently verified by people with no connections to those who produced the paper.
May 19, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAbc

+1

Me too.

May 19, 2014 at 7:47 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I just don’t believe what they claim

What took you so long?

May 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Jim Bouldin was defending Mann and co a few years ago, particularly the PNAS paper. I remember asking him about a ClimateGate e-mail that said paleos are ignoring evolutionary theory and he thought it was ridiculous.

May 19, 2014 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Jim Bouldin was defending Mann and co a few years ago, particularly the PNAS paper. I remember asking him about a ClimateGate e-mail that said paleos are ignoring evolutionary theory and he thought it was ridiculous.

May 19, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

MikeN said:

Jim Bouldin was defending Mann and co a few years ago, particularly the PNAS paper.

"... there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

May 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Note that Jim Bouldin used to be part of the RealClimate Team (from their site, go to contributors, contributor bios, older entries).

May 19, 2014 at 10:32 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The worst examples of hype and AGW promotion are often the Editor's comments on the right-hand-side on abstract pages.

I've always thought that "Nature Climate Change" should be renamed "Nature Climate Change Whores".

May 19, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

I am well aware of Jim Bouldin's historic background, but I am far more interested in what he thinks these days. Take a look at our recent twitter conversation for example.

May 19, 2014 at 10:38 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

'I've always thought that "Nature Climate Change" should be renamed "Nature Climate Change Whores".' --Mikky

That's insulting to the latter. : ]

May 19, 2014 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

I will be a cold day in hell, or when the ice caps melt - whichever is the soonest. Hallelujah, then I might give credence to what ole Jim Bouldin says, or thinks.

Then again, on reconsidering - more likely never.

May 20, 2014 at 1:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

May 19, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered Commenter Stephen Richards

There are plenty of jobs for those with Geology degrees these days. I graduated in Geology back in 1989 in the dark days of the oil slump and there weren't many jobs then. (I also did three years of University Maths along with Geology - I don't know if many geologists do that these days.) The slump continued to around 2003 but I stuck around. I could have jumped onto the green bandwagon but I didn't.

May 20, 2014 at 1:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

We will hopefully see a lot more of this and soon. The AGW dysfunction is rotten to the core. Our leaders are fighting the weather rather doing their jobs. Every minute spent fighting climate change is a wasted minute that could have done something useful.

May 20, 2014 at 2:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The flashiest journals such as Nature and Science seem most given to favoring what seems hype-worthy, "innovative" and "original" "novel" etc. so long as it serves a favored messaging. We have now seen ERL do the same in disparaging interest in model-observation comparisons.

If I may repeat some observations I made at CA, I think scientists in various fields (especially climate-related) need to look for ways to push back against the shallow tyranny of novel-innovative-original.


If I may make a couple of broad observations about how many scientific journals, including ERL, seem to operate:

There seems to be (often) far too great an emphasis upon innovation and originality in determining what gets published.

While there are evident appeals to original and/or innovative papers which (may seem to) help to advance a field,

the very first requirement for any journal and any work of science should be ACCURACY and PRECISION. Congruence with known EMPIRICAL data should come before all attempts at innovation and originality.

Thus, a paper comparing empirical observations with models and/or hypotheses and/or theory should, in general, be regarded as a potentially valuable contribution. Whether a paper finds a good fit or a bad fit between model/theory and data (or anything debateable in between), this kind of comparison needs to be regarded as valuable and worthy of the space in any journal claiming to be scientific.

Similarly, any paper or COMMENT(s) providing criticism and corrections for a paper already published should be considered MORE important not less, if the corrections or updates are accurate.

How can editors and reviewers be brought to see that maintaining an accurate scientific record is the FIRST responsibility of any journal?

.... and if a journal has already published a certain paper then they have the highest responsibility to bring into the published record any corrections, controversies, or updates about said paper.

May 20, 2014 at 5:23 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

May 20, 2014 at 5:23 AM | Skiphil

Why bother with all the effort of going to a journal though? why not just publish it on a website. It will get a much better review there.

May 20, 2014 at 6:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

May 20, 2014 at 5:23 AM | Skiphil

Why bother with all the effort of going to a journal though? why not just publish it on a website. It will get a much better review there.

May 20, 2014 at 6:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Slightly OT but as that prof withdrew from the GWPF last week there is a vacancy. Why not publicly ask Ssomeone like Gavin Schmidt to take the gig on ?

May 20, 2014 at 7:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermorph

Joe Romm?

May 20, 2014 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Back in 2012, I assembled some cutting comments from scientists and journalists about Nature. For example:

'This paper marks, in my opinion, the death of credibility for Nature on global warming. The first symptoms showed up in 1996 when they published a paper by Ben Santer and 13 coauthors that was so obviously cherry-picked that it took me and my colleagues about three hours to completely destroy it. Things have gone steadily downhill, from a crazy screamer by Jonathan Patz on mortality from warming that didn’t even bother to examine whether fossil fuels were associated with extended lifespan (they are), to the recent Shakun debacle. But the latest whopper, by Ben Booth and his colleagues at the UK Met Office indeed signals the death of Nature in this field.'

'With climate models one can bring about the end of the world, and at the same time provide a little fun in an otherwise staid science scene. You can get your kicks out of it, generate lots of research funding, and keep the world in suspense through the media. This is what two science teams in the USA have done, and have published their fun-and-games in ‘Nature’, a publication that has long since stopped being a scientific journal and has become a comic book for climate junkies'

'He seemed faintly disgusted by the lengths to which some climate scientists will go to get published in Nature or Science with the attendant publicity, media appearances and so on. He sometimes found it difficult to tell which of the Daily Mail and Nature was the peer-reviewed journal and which the tabloid. Nonetheless, he said, his colleagues reassure him that just because something appears in Nature doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.'

For the authors of these apercus, and for more, see the original post at http://climatelessons.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/another-climate-authority-with-badly.html

May 20, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I have reached the conclusion that there are no credible "scientific journals" at all. Like the "science" that is bought and paid for by governments, they serve only to enforce the prevailing paradigm. Getting to the truth of a matter is not on the agenda, but rather protecting the jobs, reputations, and income of the hoard of rent-seeking minions of the prevailing paradigm is the real agenda. These journals serve as gatekeepers keeping out unwanted results or findings, and as such are anti-science.

May 20, 2014 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Stoval

There should be a list of the unreliable science publications.
Scientific American comes to mind.
Others?

May 20, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

John Shade,

I recognize Pat Michaels a mile off. I too put it at the summer of 1996. It was the 4 of July no less when the paper that was supposed to justified the 'discernible human influence' finding (belatedly inserted into SAR) was finally published by Nature with much fanfare. This was only days before Tim Wirth used this finding to justify the change of US policy (announced at CoP2) that made possible the move towards emissions protocols at CoP3 in Kyoto. Until that summer Nature had been tolerably balanced on climate change and with lots of news stories and letters damaging for the IPC. An anti-IPCC editorial line turned on a most strange Janus-faced editorial of 13 June 1996:

http://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/madrid-1995-was-this-the-tipping-point-in-the-corruption-of-climate-science/nature_1996_climatedebatemustnotoverheat/

One suspect some pretty major debates were going on behind the scenes. If anyone knows any of this, or even of the personalities involved (editors-in-chief etc), then I would love to hear.

May 20, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernieL

BernieL,

I don't know if you've looked much at earlier CliSci activism in the 1980s leading into the creation of UNFCCC - IPCC, but it sets an interesting stage for what came later. Maybe I'm the only person who hasn't seen this stuff before, but I'm finding it most "interesting" this evening to be poking around a bit in 1985-90:

- Skiphil on UNFCCC and IPCC biased from the start?

May 21, 2014 at 5:38 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

For instance, take a look at what was used to "sell" and guide the initial creation of the UNFCCC - IPCC:

(first figure is 3 ranges of projected global temps., lower figure is 3 ranges of projected sea level rise)

Oppenheimer et al. 1987, figures on pp. 4-5

[the salvation of the "low" scenario was only if govts agreed to take drastic actions promptly in late '80s/early '90s]

May 21, 2014 at 5:57 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Bernie / Skiphil - there's a retired diplomat who now lives in my town - senior UN etc. I once mentioned to him that global warming was a relatively new scare considering the context of the global cooling scare in the 1970s. Oh no he said, we were working on global warming before that...

I should add that he wasn't a UK diplomat, but from another western European country.

May 21, 2014 at 7:53 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

RealClimate had him listed as a contributor on their site up to late last year. The Dec 2004 date was not changed wth his erasure.

May 22, 2014 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Lapogus,
Thanks. You should record an interview. These guys are getting on now and lots of the folks I talk to (with valuable unpublished insights) are getting on into their 80s. The scientific movement goes back before the 70s. A paper by Gilbert Plass published in 1956 was important: ‘The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change.’ Plass was early in using computer modelling to calculated climate sensitivity at 3.6 C.

Skiphil,
I have never seen this document so thanks. Actually the Villach meeting are notorious in the history of the scare. There was one in 1980 that just said 'let's do more research,' while the one in 1985 is often regarded as the beginning of the climate treaty movement.

Otherwise, I have partly answered my own question: The editor of Nature was the notorious sceptic, John Maddox, who retired in 1995. So he most likely wrote the 1995 editorials critical of the IPCC. With his retirement, 1995-6 would have been a special time of transition at Nature generally. And the question remaining: Who wrote the editorial calling for restraint at the beginning of the Ch 8 scandal the following year??

May 26, 2014 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernieL

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