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« Now what were those arguments against shale gas again? | Main | Settled science bites »

Hiding your light

Some of the more "politically aware" climate scientists have been keen that nobody should publish anything that might work against the green agenda. Michael Mann's infamous comments are a case in point. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that climate scientists moderate their behaviour accordingly, withholding anything that might give "fodder" - in Mann's words to the sceptics. They either do this willingly, because they share Mann's political outlook, or unwillingly, because they fear the consequences.

A new paper in the journal Public Understanding of Science attempts to put some flesh on these bones, finding that scientists are less likely to publish if their findings on climate change are "less", rather than "more" of it. 

A representative survey of 123 German climate scientists (42%) finds that although most climate scientists think that uncertainties about climate change should be made clearer in public they do not actively communicate this to journalists. Moreover, the climate scientists fear that their results could be misinterpreted in public or exploited by interest groups. Asking scientists about their readiness to publish one of two versions of a fictitious research finding shows that their concerns weigh heavier when a result implies that climate change will proceed slowly than when it implies that climate change will proceed fast.

It's fair to conclude that the scientivists have so completely corrupted the field that it is now largely unreliable.

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Reader Comments (46)

I couldn't agree more with your final sentence.

Feb 5, 2016 at 9:54 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I love reading early climate science papers because they seem so pure, interested only in knowledge and truth, with no other agendas. No doubt there were attempts made by some to introduce agendas, but the journal editors and reviewers probably cleansed such papers. Now there is often an agenda, usually in plain sight, and the major journal editors are in on it.

Feb 5, 2016 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

When the cull comes, we'll hear frenzied bleatings 'Bwaaaa, Bwaaaa, why can't we be retrained as Imams?'.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

"Moreover, the climate scientists fear that their results could be misinterpreted in public or exploited by interest groups."

Like this has not been the case for 30 years! A very concise summary of 5 "assessment reports".

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenese2

" completely corrupted the field that it is now largely unreliable."

I do sincerely trust the damage is limited to 'the field' that we can cope with, in future it could be then just seen as an aberration.

However the fear is the longer it goes on the more likely it is to engender a public mistrust of advance through the scientific method. Were that to happen the resultant adverse effects would fall most upon those least able to cope, the needy, the ones who need technology to advance in order to lift them from poverty.

It has been our ability to practice the true scientific method that continues to improve the wellbeing of mankind as a whole. It should be treasured and policed by every scientist in every field.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:06 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

A new paper... well, then, it is indeed safe to conclude..., hold on, what again? And just how complete is this safe conclusion, you say?


Feb 5, 2016 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

full paper here:

thy were full professors, ie not junior, so no doubt that view gets propagated downwards.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

A well known problem in medical research is that negative findings are less likely to be published than positive ones.

Negativity towards negative results: a discussion of the disconnect between scientific worth and scientific culture
Natalie Matosin, Elisabeth Frank, Martin Engel, Jeremy S. Lum, and Kelly A. Newell.


Science is often romanticised as a flawless system of knowledge building, where scientists work together to systematically find answers. In reality, this is not always the case. Dissemination of results are straightforward when the findings are positive, but what happens when you obtain results that support the null hypothesis, or do not fit with the current scientific thinking? In this Editorial, we discuss the issues surrounding publication bias and the difficulty in communicating negative results. Negative findings are a valuable component of the scientific literature because they force us to critically evaluate and validate our current thinking, and fundamentally move us towards unabridged science.

The reluctance to publish negative results, irrespective of whether it is the researchers or the journal editors (or both parties) who are reluctant could have an adverse effect on the way in which patients are treated for particular conditions. Although, in the short term at least, publication bias in climate science will not result in lives being lost it will nevertheless have a considerable impact on people's lives because such bias influences the policies of governments around the world. Therefore it should be made clear to climate scientists that they have a moral duty to publish negative findings.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Have I got this right? Climate scientists are reluctant to publish work that tends to show that climate change isn't actually a problem in case the general public get the idea that climate change isn't actually a problem.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Green Sand,

I fear the worst. My field is utterly contaminated, with every research proposal and paper needing to pay obeisance to this absurd eunuch deity.

How is it that those who corrupt a mere pastime, i.e. sport, perhaps by deliberately overstepping a white line by a few inches on two or three occasions, can be fined, jailed and their careers effectively ended, whilst in science, probably humanity's greatest achievement, rank corruption is rewarded with Nobel prizes, Royal Society fellowships and knighthoods?

As a huge cricket fan I am all in favour of the heaviest possible penalties for fixing results, but in the scheme of things, it's utterly trivial compared to the impacts of the criminal malfeasance of some of CliSci's leading endarkeners.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Re: Roy

> Therefore it should be made clear to climate scientists that they have a moral duty to publish negative findings.

If a scientist is given a grant from the public purse to research if A affects B and then suppresses the results because he finds out it does not (or might not) then he is guilty of misconduct.

If the grant making authority allows the scientist to simply drop the research without publishing the negative results then they are guilty of wasting public money.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The Settled Science is exactly what we say it is. After all, we are 'Climate Scientists' and only we can interpret the Tablets brought down from the Mountain by Moses Hansen.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

What do I hear? It does't matter that the Tablets were faked.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

A couple of excerpts, from the results and from the discussion:

Correlations confirm that the more the German climate scientists talked with journalists and published articles in the media the less they approved of discussing unresolved questions in public. They were also the more engaged with the media the more they were convinced of the publicly accepted frame of climate change, i.e. that it is man-made, dangerous, historically unique and calculable (Table 1).

This study shows that the more climate scientists are engaged with the media the less they intend to point out uncertainties about climate change and the more unambiguously they confirm the publicly held convictions that it is man-made, historically unique, dangerous and calculable.

Of course it's been obvious for years that the most alarmist climate scientists are the ones that are celebrated by the environmental correspondent-activists in the media but it's good to see this acknowledged in the literature.

Feb 5, 2016 at 11:06 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

In a nushell, TerryS!

Feb 5, 2016 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Fortunately, the Michelson-Morley experiment which produced negative results was reported and acknowledged, so that the concept of the "ether" was abandoned.

Feb 5, 2016 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterMalcolmS

I claim that it is even worse:
1. All working climate scientists know of this and the larger problem of outright lying to the public.
2. They keep quite and do not expose the lies
That makes ALL of them guilty - the entire field is corrupt - the liars and those cover up the lies by their silence.

Feb 5, 2016 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterjim

I see the core problem: journalists.

Feb 5, 2016 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Gamecock, part of the problem is the journalists, and part is the scientists themselves.
The difficulty sorting out the balance. Is it that the journalists go out and seek the most alarmist scientists they can find to present the story the journalist wants to tell, or is it that the alarmist scientists shout loudly at the journalists with their exaggerated claims? Or six of one and half a dozen of the other?

Here is how the author Senja Post puts it in her discussion section:

Little is known about the exact mechanisms, however. Is it journalists’ preference to contact climate scientists who make certain, clear and unambiguous claims about climate change? Or are climate scientists the more encouraged to contact journalists the more their expert judgements fit journalistic needs and public convictions?

Feb 5, 2016 at 12:46 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

It isn't just the usual suspects, there are a loot of deep ecology scientivists out there. Even **Tamsin Edwards said she did climate science to save the planet, a profound misunderstanding.

Mike Hume* should be banned from academic publication and put on the truth offender's list for life.

From page 326 of the book., Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity, he writes

"The idea of climate change should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identities and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us."

He recommends the following deceptions.

1. Lamenting Eden - To give the idea that the world was stable until man turned up. And we broke it.

2. Presaging apocalypses - Where you should use phrases like "impending disaster" and "tipping point". This is despite having the knowledge of such predictions but should because it "capitalizes on the human inbuilt fear of the future."

3. Reconstructing babel - Appealing to our fear of advancement and technology. As though anything modern is inherently bad.

4. Celebrating Jubilee - Balancing the cosmic unfairness of the world where well off inherently make this worse for the poor and the balance should be readdressed every 25 years or so.

*In October 2000 Mike Hulme founded the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

** Tamsin is a physicist who couldn't get a real job.

** Never tell me anything. I am an intellectual Roy Keane . I go for the ball, but don't mind taking the man/woman out at the same time.

Feb 5, 2016 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Oh, dear.

How inconvenient !!

Feb 5, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

esmiff, alternatively, it could be argued that Mike Hulme should be applauded for being honest about his political motivation. In the preface he writes
"I came to view global climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions as a manifestation of a free-market, consumption-driven, capitalist economy - an ideology to which I was opposed... I subsequently joined the Labour Party in 1990."

Feb 5, 2016 at 1:26 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I came to view global climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions as a manifestation of a free-market, consumption-driven, capitalist economy
Shame really that he didn't come to view it as the myth it almost certainly is.
Apologies to my leftward-leaning colleagues but I'm afraid this is precisely where the problem lies, with too many of the also leftward-leaning (il)literati, especially in academia, taking precisely this blinkered point of view. The sort of idiot savant that made the name Pavlov a by-word for concepts that emerge fully-deformed without passing through the brain.

Feb 5, 2016 at 1:48 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

There is pressure to publish. There is pressure to make a splash.
Else you lose your job in academia.
'The End of the World is Nigh' is news. It makes a splash.
'Yep, the world keeps on turning' is not news. It makes a splat.

That's why academic science gets ratcheted away from empiricism. Results do not matter. Only papers published and celebrity matter.

Now consider Environmental Journalists.
They have the exact same pressures. But their bias is all the greater as they have specialised in 'Environment' over 'Science' in general.

Put the two together and the ratchet is tugged ever more rapidly

Feb 5, 2016 at 1:55 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

So Climate Scientists only get paid for reporting bad news from bad science.

Good news from bad science does not get reported.

Therefore, stop funding bad science. Simple.

If German engineers have been corruptly paid to program their cars so that they only report good news, for artificial environmental reasons, there is obviously a link between corruption, payment and artificial environmental reasons.

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Paul Matthews

That illustrates the profound political naivety of the average scientist. The stupidity that makes them believe Obama is standing up to the oil industry. It's the 'lesser of two evils must be right' logical fallacy.

Mike Jackson

" fully-deformed without passing through the brain"

That is the exact problem for every Guardian approving idiot out there. Information goes in one emotionally tuned orifice and comes out another, unaffected by thought. It's how propaganda works.

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Corrupt climate science only exists because the market demands and rewards their corrupt work product.
Watch how the American President uses the corrupt work product to justify a thoroughly corrupted EPA taking over the energy sector of the American economy.
Watch how the Lysenko's of the climate complex are rewarded for their work.

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter, some of them are getting a bit desperate as they try to maintain the illusion.

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The more scientists bias their results towards the case for cataclysmic global warming the more people are skeptical. And the more people are skeptical the more scientists bias their results so as not to give the skeptics ammunition.

And around and around it goes.

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

Until centrifugal force kicks in, perhaps?!
Stand clear!

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:52 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Judith Curry promises a post about this on Monday.

But I have a feeling that this story won't be reported by the Guardian, ClimateHome, Carbon Brief, BBC, New York Times, Slate...

Feb 5, 2016 at 5:44 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I wonder if Harrabin saw my comment! He just tweeted
"Scientists temper comments on #climatechange for fear of being exploited. "

Feb 5, 2016 at 6:12 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I guess this is an illustration of how this can be a win-win for those who run blogs like this. Scientist speaks openly and honestly and what they say is misrepresented. Scientist decides to be more careful about what they say so as to avoid being misrepresented, and you get to claim that science has been corrupted. Brilliant. Andrew must be very proud.

Feb 5, 2016 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP manages to find a way to miss the point almost as if he can't recognize the point.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter, aTTP prefers climate science by Mann, Lewandowsky and the Skeptical Science experts.

It is where the money is. That is his point.

Feb 6, 2016 at 1:47 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

“… it could be argued that Mike Hulme should be applauded for being honest about his political motivation …”.
In a recent essay Hulme seems to have modified his rhetoric to soothing quasi-religious flannel.

Feb 6, 2016 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Chris Hanley

I brought up Hulme b/c he went way beyond publishing against the accepted grain.

"In another article for the BBC, in November 2006, he warned against the dangers of using alarmist language when communicating climate change science."

Possible because, as 'a self-proclaimed evangelical Christian', his conscience was bothering him

Both quotes

However in the essay you linked to he quotes this classic manifesto of deep ecology (Nazism lite) from Monbiot and Edward Goldsmith associate, Paul Kingsnorth

“Dark Mountain became a wider cultural movement of people who had stopped believing in the conventional narratives about the future, and who wanted to start unweaving some of the myths of human centrality; of our separation from something called ‘Nature’; of endless progress; of our ability to control the Earth.”

I raised Mein Kampf the other day. If anyone doubts the connection, here it is

“When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall.” . Here, of course, we encounter the objection of the modern pacifist, as truly Jewish in its effrontery as it is stupid! 'Man's role is to overcome Nature!'

Millions thoughtlessly parrot this Jewish nonsense and end up by really imagining that they themselves represent a kind of conqueror of Nature; though in this they dispose of no other weapon than an idea, and at that such a miserable one, that if it were true no world at all would be conceivable."

Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf

Why Jewish ?

Genesis 1:28

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Feb 6, 2016 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Prof Richard Betts described journalist doing the ring around - is this global warming - until they got a yes.. at the BBC ages ago.. Don't think he has had an article at the BBC since..

"The question is: do climate scientists do enough to counter this? Or are we guilty of turning a blind eye to these things because we think they are on "our side" against the climate sceptics?

It's easy to blame the media and I don't intend to make generalisations here, but I have quite literally had journalists phone me up during an unusually warm spell of weather and ask "is this a result of global warming?"

When I say "no, not really, it is just weather", they've thanked me very much and then phoned somebody else, and kept trying until they got someone to say yes it was. " - Betts

Feb 6, 2016 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

esmiff: Monbiot is in fact, a critic of the Dark Mountain project

Feb 6, 2016 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

This recent letter was censored by the Editors of the Veterinary Record, whose agenda seems to be firmly in the AGW camp.
The Editor
Veterinary Record
30 November 15

Dear Sir
Are we a Science-based Profession?

I feel bound to ask this question after reading the VR Editorial Comment (28th November). This stated, in effect, that the profession was in a good position to support the IPCC’s dogma on catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW), due to man’s emission of so-called greenhouse gases (mainly CO2 and CH4). There was a similar editorial (VR 5th October 2013) entitled “Curbing Emissions”, which was a response to the IPCC AR5 report. My letter was published (9th November 2013), in which I commented that “there was no published empirical data or verifiable experiments that suggested either of the gasses (CO2 and CH4) had ever caused or driven global warming”. I also suggested that curbing these emissions will have no measurable effect on global temperatures and the ‘economic effects’ are dubious. Recently Dr Patrick Moore, Ecologist (2015) gave a lecture in which he produced robust evidence which suggested that, far from causing CAGW, more CO2 would be highly beneficial to the biosphere and agricultural crops.
In order to clarify the scientific method, I need to refer to Dr Craig Idso and others (2013), quote, “The hypothesis implicit in all IPCC writings is that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions. In considering any such hypothesis, an alternative and null hypothesis must be entertained, which is the simplest hypothesis consistent with the known facts. The null hypothesis is that the currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment, as well as current changes in animal and plant characteristics, are the result of natural variability. To invalidate this null hypothesis requires, at a minimum, direct evidence of human causation of specific changes that lie outside usual, natural variability. Unless and until such evidence is adduced, the null hypothesis is assumed to be correct”. I respectfully suggest, therefore, that the 28th November Leader does not follow the scientific method which was well defined by Popper (1965). If we are a science-based profession, it would make no sense to support the IPCC’s pseudo-scientific political dogma.
There are other disquieting aspects. Dr Tim Ball (2014) makes a compelling case that climate science has been, quote, “deliberately corrupted by deceptions, misinformation, manipulation of records and misapplying the scientific method and research”. Much of this is also revealed in the emails from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in November 2009, which have been fully recorded and analysed by Andrew Montford (2012). He shows, regrettably, evidence of international malpractice.
One of the main platforms of the IPCC hypothesis is its reliance on un-validated Global Climate Models (aka General Circulation Models) in projecting global temperatures about 100 years ahead. Global climate is far too complex and chaotic for GCMs ever to be programmed correctly. Furthermore many of the known natural factors affecting the global climate have been omitted from the GCMs. It is not surprising, therefore, that the projections made for the last 20 years differ wildly from the actual lower troposphere temperatures as shown by the RSS (Monckton 2015) and UAH (Spencer 2015) datasets. Both of these show there has been no statistical rise in global temperatures for nearly 20 years.
One is bound to wonder whether the Leader Comment exhorting us to “raise awareness of our clients to these issues” of a pseudo-scientific myth, will soon ask us to raise awareness of the importance of homoeopathy.
MOORE, P., (2015) GWPF Lecture
IDSO, C.D., CARTER, R.M., SINGER,S.F., (2013) Climate Change Reconsidered ll. Physical Science.
POPPER, K., (1965) Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge.2nd Edition: Harper and Row.
BALL, T., (2014) The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science. Stairway Press.
MONTFORD, A., (2012) Hiding the Decline. Anglosphere Books
MONCKTON, C., (2015) RSS Dataset
SPENCER, R., (2015) UAH Dataset

Yours sincerely
Michael Oxenham

Feb 6, 2016 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Oxenham

Phil Clarke

Indeed, Monbiot has some intellectual differences with his close friends at Dark Mountain. Particularly over the subject of inevitable inevitable civilisation collapse.

Monbiot does forecast collapse here, though.

We have enough non-renewable resources of all kinds to complete our wreckage of renewable resources: forests, soil, fish, freshwater, benign weather. Collapse will come one day, but not before we have pulled everything down with us.

Monbiot was interviewed on stage at the Dark Mountain conference 'Uncivilisation' in 2011. He was introduced as 'the individual who as much as anyone else helped to spread the word about Dark Mountain'.

I explore some of the connections on this page

Feb 6, 2016 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Sorry, this is the link to the (2010) Uncivilisation interview.

Ivy League (Dartmouth College) professor of environmental studies, Michael K. Dorsey referred to Dark Mountain in the following way in the Guardian.

'Everyone should stay vigilant and keep their danger sniffers on full alert when the likes of those high on the Dark Mountain and others associated with "deep ecological" tendencies get on about "crises" of "humanity." Sadly, we have a great deal of evidence now, that such 'dark' tendencies have been built upon a legacy of misanthropic meandering, petty ECO FASCISM and immigrant bashing-- souped up in talk of waywardness from the "myth[s] of human centrality"--by the likes of Teddy Goldsmith, the gaggle of old Ecologist sods, inter alia, some of whom helped precipitate the Cornerhouse'.

Feb 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I don't know Bish, I reckon that once word gets out about the Australian CSIRO sacking 350 scientists because since the " science is settled" who needs to research it any more! Hilarious isn't it. Talk about hoist with your own petard.So, look for scientists to suddenly start communicating all their uncertainties.
Because: funding. Lol

Feb 6, 2016 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAll_on_Red

Over at ATTP, Ken Rice displays his usual.

Feb 8, 2016 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Over at ATTP, Ken Rice displays his usual.

Over at ATTP, and on BH, Richard Tol displays his usual.

Feb 8, 2016 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

That Monbiot piece includes a comment by Monbiot... which was removed by a moderator "because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted."

Feb 13, 2016 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterClunking Fist

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