“Erring on the side of least drama” — Why climate scientists are inherently conservative (video)

I’ve been writing for a while that predictions from climate scientists are consistently “wrong to the slow side” — a statement that, if true, adds even greater urgency to stopping carbon emissions.

My favorite “wrong to the slow side” graphic is from the Copenhagen Diagnosis, the climate document produced ahead of the 2009 summit in Copenhagen. It shows loss of Arctic summer ice, both modeled and observed. In other words, IPCC models were run that showed the likely range of loss of Arctic summer ice, year by year, and over that, the actual, observed loss for the same time period was shown. As the accompanying caption says:

Observed (red line) and modeled September Arctic sea ice extent in millions of square kilometers. The solid black line gives the ensemble mean of the 13 IPCC AR4 models while the dashed black lines represent their range.

“AR4″ is the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report 4, the most recent at the time. Here’s that figure:

Arctic sea ice — modeled vs. observed as of 2009, Fig. 13 from the Copenhagen Diagnosis (source)

Arctic sea ice — modeled vs. observed as of 2009, Fig. 13 from the Copenhagen Diagnosis (source)

See what I mean? Wrong to the slow side. Arctic ice is disappearing fast.

Scientists tend to “err on the side of least drama”

There are many examples of the above, where models are more conservative than observations and tend to “under-predict.” In addition, scientists also tend to throw away the more extreme conclusions (or most “dramatic,” as you’ll see below), even when those extreme conclusions are also the most likely.

Why is that? History of Science professor Naomi Oreskes has studied that phenomenon. In a 2012 peer-reviewed paper, “Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?” (pdf), she and her colleagues put to the test the claim of climate deniers that “climate scientists are alarmists.” When they tested that conclusion by looking at actual data — climate projections and how they compare to climate outcomes — they discovered something very interesting. In fact, the opposite is true. Climate scientists tend to underplay their results.

Here’s Dr. Oreskes in a short video to explain. When she says “this particular piece of work” at the beginning, she’s referring to the 2012 paper I mentioned above, then in preparation.

The source of this interview is this entry in the American Geophysical Union blog. The writer, Dan Satterfield, has interesting comments of his own as well.

As Dr. Oreskes says in introducing her main point (my emphasis):

“What we’re proposing is that the core values of science, the core values of the scientific community — rationality, objectivity, dispassion, restraint, moderation — actually introduce a bias into scientific evaluation in cases where some possible outcomes are, in fact, dramatic.

“And that when scientists encounter outcomes that are potentially quite dramatic — or even potentially alarming — that it actually makes them uncomfortable. And they have a tendency, and I would argue subconsciously, to emphasize the more cautious range of their data, erring on the side of least drama. Erring on the side of the data that seems less dramatic and less alarming.

“The argument of the paper is that, this is really a problem, a source of bias.”

More than a “source of bias,” I would argue. For a situation this serious to be this underplayed is genuinely dangerous.

The evidence

The evidence in the paper is compelling. The link is here (pdf); note that the annotation was added by the hosting site and is not part of the original. For example, from a 2007 paper by Rahmstorf et al, Oreskes and her colleagues write (my emphasis and some reparagraphing everywhere):

In a 2007 article, Rahmstorf and colleagues compared projections of global mean temperature change, sea level rise, and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR) with observations made since 1973 and concluded:

‘‘Overall, these observational data underscore the concerns about global climate change. Previous projections, as summarized by IPCC, have not exaggerated but may in some respects even have underestimated the change, in particular for sea level’’ (p. 709).

In the TAR, released in 2001, the IPCC predicted an average sea level rise of less than 2 mm/yr, but from 1993 to 2006, sea level actually rose 3.3 mm/yr—more than 50% above the IPCC prediction (Houghton et al., 2001). Furthermore, the temperature change over the period ‘‘is 0.33 8C for the 16 years since 1990, which is in the upper part of the range projected by the IPCC (in the TAR).’’ The underestimate in sea level rise can be traced in part to under-projection of ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland, as discussed in detail later in this paper.

And:

In a 2008 paper, Roger Pielke, Jr. … observed that for sea level rise, actual changes have been greater than forecast in two of three prior IPCC reports, while falling below the median prediction in the First Assessment Report (FAR).

And:

These conclusions are also supported in a report prepared by the Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program [NRC, 2009] … The results of the three-year study … were consistent with the conclusion that IPCC projections have systematically underestimated key climate change drivers and impacts. … The key climate metrics of global mean temperature and sea level rise are biased toward underestimation, so far as the evidence in this analysis shows.

And from the 2009 Copenhagen Diagnosis, mentioned above:

iceberg2The Copenhagen Diagnosis (Allison et al., 2009), reviewed ‘‘hundreds of papers . . . on a suite of topics related to human-induced climate change’’ since the drafting of AR4 [IPCC Assessment Report 4, 2007], and, like the NRC report, found that key changes were happening either at the same rate as, or more quickly than, anticipated (p. 5).

Among their key findings were that global temperature increases over the past 25 years have been consistent with model predictions (0.19 °C per decade, virtually the same rate as for the 16 years mentioned in Rahmstorf et al., 2007), while other important impacts are proceeding faster than expected, including CO2 emissions, increased rainfall in already rainy areas, continental ice-sheet melting, arctic sea-ice decline, and sea level rise.

The paper goes on to elaborate those findings, and then offers quite a number of other examples similar to those above — predictions of hurricane intensity and frequency, ozone depletion, ice sheet destruction, predictions of permafrost melt, and so on.

About the latter (permafrost and its melting methane), the paper observes:

The total carbon contained in permafrost [in the form of frozen methane] has been estimated at 1672 gigatons, more than twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere (Tarnocai et al., 2009). This means that the potential amplifying effect of greenhouse gas release from permafrost melting is enormous. Yet this feedback ‘‘has not been accounted for in any of the IPCC projections’’ (Allison et al., 2009, p. 21). This omission introduces a potentially profound bias in the climate projections—not toward overestimation of climate change, but toward its underestimation.

I’ve written about methane here, and will write more as we look into James Hansen’s work on climate sensitivity — how responsive our climate system is to destabilizing influences — and slower amplifying feedbacks like permafrost melt. Oreskes and her colleagues are right that, through 2009, the IPCC hasn’t included the feedback from melting methane in their projections — partly because it’s hard to model and partly because the conclusions tend to be extreme (if you click, note McPherson’s comments).

Climate sensitivity and “extreme” results

As an example of those “extreme” results, consider this, from something I’m working on now. In general, “climate sensitivity” is an attempt to quantify how much earth’s climate system reacts to stimulus. Do quantified changes in stimulus (more CO2, for example, or increased radiation by the sun) produce large temperature changes, or smaller ones?

The standard measure of “climate sensitivity,” one which includes only fast and easily modeled feedbacks — water vapor, clouds, volcanic dust and so on — says that if you would instantly double atmospheric CO2 in ppm (parts per million) — a known amount of “forcing” — global temperature would increase +3°C before it restabilizes. In other words, by this measure, “climate sensitivity” is “3°C”. That number for sensitivity is widely used; you see it in Michael Mann’s recent work, for instance (the link is to my write-up).

NASA’s James Hansen, however, has convincingly shown (pdf) that the real sensitivity number is low by as much as half if you also include slow feedbacks like loss of reflective sea ice and, yes, melted Arctic methane. To make that real — if Hansen is right and we succeed in doubling atmospheric CO2 from the stable pre-industrial level of 280 ppm to 560 ppm, and then stop, we could well have handed ourselves +6°C global warming, guaranteed, after restabilization. 6°C warmer is a world before any glaciers formed, more than 50 million years ago.

We’re at roughly 400 ppm now, and emissions are accelerating. How long before we get to 560 ppm? If we keep going like this, it happens this century. “Extreme” results.

Causes of “conservative bias” in climate pronouncements

Oreskes nicely explains in the video most of the causes of “erring on the side of least drama.” One cause she doesn’t emphasize above — but does treat in the paper — is the constant hammering scientists are subjected to, especially in the U.S., by the well-funded denialist machine (my phrasing).

Oreskes (again, my emphasis and paragraphing):

Given the challenging political environment in which climate scientists operate, and the fact that climate scientists have been repeatedly accused of fear-mongering and alarmism, we might conclude that scientific reticence with respect to global warming is a consequence of the charged political context in which climate scientists operate.

Freudenberg and Muselli (2010) have suggested that the asymmetry of political pressure, particularly in the United States, has contributed to a conservative bias in IPCC assessments. These authors emphasize that most analyses of scientific communication focus on the flow (and impact) of information from scientists to the larger public, paying far less attention to the reverse flow—in this case, the strongly stated criticism of scientists by contrarians and skeptics, widely repeated in the North American press, and then spread more widely on the internet.

They suggest that this reverse flow [of information back to climate scientists] has contributed to a bias in which scientists not only bend over backward to ensure that their results are absolutely warranted by the evidence, but actually take positions that are more conservative than warranted by the evidence to disprove contrarian accusations of scientific ‘‘alarmism.’’

I’ll leave you to check out the rest of this fine work. I found the paper fascinating. Again, it’s data-driven and peer-reviewed. This is not just someone making an “eyeball” estimate.

Oreskes, by the way, knows about denialism. Her recent book, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming, discusses in very accessible terms the intersection between scientists siding with the tobacco industry and scientists siding with the Koch Bros. For an excellent intro to this book, listen to this interview with Naomi Oreskes on Virtually Speaking Science. I found it riveting, a must-listen.

And I’ll say this about the billionaires — the David Kochs and other deep-pocket funders of our collective lemming-walk to the cliff — they’re definitely getting their money’s worth. Those denial dollars have bought a lot of time. It’s down to just a few more years as I see it. Time to make a strong move for our side.

GP

Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
Facebook: Gaius Publi

(Facebook note: To get the most from a Facebook recommendation, be sure to Share what you also Like. Thanks.)


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

Share This Post

  • MeganLinefyl321

    Leah . although Ralph `s artlclee is exceptional, I
    just bought a new Ariel Atom from having made $9974 this last five weeks
    and-also, ten-k this past munth . it’s realy the most-financialy rewarding Ive had
    . I started this 8-months ago and pretty much immediately startad making
    minimum $71 per/hr . over at this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • witsendnj

    This bias towards unwarranted caution and reticence is evident in the scientific community’s framing of the problems of pollution as well. In particular, foresters and atmospheric physicists and those who study the nitrogen cycle are grotesquely under-reporting the damage being done to trees and other plants from the formation of tropospheric ozone. Ozone is invisible, but highly toxic, and the background level is inexorably rising. When plants absorb it they lose natural immunity to biotic pathogens, such as fungus, disease and insects, which are almost invariably blamed for the decline in forests when in fact the are opportunistic epidemics because of air pollution. If people don’t start waking up to this existential threat, we will lose all the “services” provided by trees, including food, lumber, shade, beauty, a major CO2 sink and source of oxygen – a major amplifying feedback to climate change that isn’t included in a single model prediction! See links to “reticent” scientific research, which has been downplayed for decades, here: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/01/29/whispers-from-the-ghosting-trees/

  • pappyvet

    The age of the Earth is not under debate for you and me. But that does not stop those who believe that “creation science” [snicker] should be taught our children as an equally valid scientific principal. So there is a debate. Stupid though it may be.

  • rational_eyes

    Lots of emotion there. Use other energy sources Aquaria, nobody is stopping you or anyone else. Start installing those solar cells, again nobody is stopping you. We still live in a free country. Put one on every rooftop. You might just save the world. Don’t expect Lockheed to do it for you. Now get out there and change the world for the better! If you showed me the economic case I might buy one from you.
    Just don’t expect me to fall for you climate change “emergency” argument from ignorance. I am very certain that humans will adapt. Somehow we survived with a sheet of ice over a large portion of North America.

  • Aquaria

    Fallacy of composition–the small can’t affect the whole, or vice versa.

    Naturalistic fallacy–Only 100% natural will do the job, which is a variation on the is-ought fallacy. Which is a crock.

    False dilemma–it’s go off the grid or the planet dies. There are OTHER alternatives, nitwit. Like using other, less damaging energy sources.

    I happen to know for a fact that there’s ZERO reason for us not to have solar arrays on every roof in this country, right stinking now. I worked on the project at Lockheed that developed solar fuel cell arrays to run several key power needs on the space shuttle. The arrays were so sophisticated that they created an 11 foot tower that would collapse into a 1 foot cube (that is NOT a misprint).

    That was in the EIGHTIES, nitwit, meaning that just a TINY bit of effort and funding could have created smaller arrays that could power a significant portion of home energy needs, nitwit, then more energy needs for larger systems, thus reducing our need for fossil fuels, nitwit, and thus slowing climate change, nitwit.

    We also could have been (and still can start) looking at alternatives to fossil fuels. We’ve known since the 70s that there’s been a problem with man creating problems with not only global warming, but other planet-wide atmospheric systems. Or do you think there was no particular reason for banning ozone-depleting CFCs, nitwit?

    But none of that was done, and it’s not going to be done anytime soon. Because it’s not in the interests of certain people to make us energy independent.

  • Aquaria

    The age of the earth isn’t under debate, really. The scientific consensus is that the earth is 4.54 billion years old, give or take a few million years.

    There’s a “debate” only if you give credence to the deluded ravings of morons.

  • Aquaria

    Get out more.

    Confronting people about their ignorance works. Mocking their ignorance works. Getting in their faces works. Making them see reality works.

    Even MLK used confrontation to make people wake the F up.

  • PeteRR

    The answer is simple, but not for a cowardly society. The only way to shame the truth out of them is to hound them with the intellectual fact (by deduction that will be proven) that they value their denial & propaganda more than they value the future quality of life & odds for survival of their own offspring.

  • rational_eyes

    My argument is that “all” by some would show true concern and leadership and equal “small measures” by many. The only two ways, to change America’s contribution to CO2 at gunpoint (given that on alternatives are not viable yet) is to tax carbon or ration carbon. I do not think either are politically practical. Given that, it is left up to the individual, not the collective, to address the issue. I promise all of you to bike more to work and work from home more often. To drive a car with reasonable gas mileage. To set my thermostat at a borderline uncomfortable level. And I really don’t believe the change in climate we will see due to carbon will be as disruptive as most on this board think. I do it for economic reasons. So, if you believe human life will end due to carbon emissions, then your response should be proportional. That was my point Bill. Maybe I get a little frustrated with the hyperbole associated with this issue. So I thought I’d throw some in from the other side.

    But if you support a carbon tax with subsidies for low income Americans, you are only supporting income redistribution. That will not change behaviors.

    Okay, so what fallacies am I using now oh fallacy experts? Fallacy of progressive contribution? Fallacy of not everyone thinks like you?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    You lost me at the very first sentence.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    He’s also using the fallacy of perfect solutions.

  • jared

    At the end of the day, I don’t want to fight with you, we want similar things (which we both perceive as good)… but as a discriminated minority who is craving acceptance (amongst other things), I don’t see how we can’t strive to accept others, no matter how illogical their opinions may appear to us.

  • jared

    Reality only exists within our minds. We seek out others to confirm our own innate reason and logic. So far we haven’t discovered an ultimate answer (for example: God). Thus i’m left with no choice but to accept the reasoning of others to be as real as my own, despite my gut instinctual reaction to their validity.

    If it isn’t obvious, I’m on the side of science, but I have to tell you…the creationists have a castle (vatican), pope, pretty art and dresses, and a lot of seemingly magestic things on their side.

    What do we have? Well if you believe in science then you ultimately have to accept that the entire universe was at one time compressed into the size of your fingernail. Which is the harder sell?

  • BillFromDover

    So… your argument is nothing or all?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I cannot believe you equate a position — climate denialism — with sexual orientation.

    These people cannot be reasoned with because they will not acknowledge reality.

    As far as I’m concerned, my empathy for them ends there, because there aren’t two sides in a debate on measurable facts and overwhelming conclusions.

    So yes, I am serious.

  • jared

    Let me please add/ask. As a gay woman, I’m close to certain you’ve felt these three actions done to you. How did you feel? Because we’re not in person and can’t answer in real time, and for the sake of expediency (if I’m incorrect, feel free to disagree and we can continue from this point), I’ll assume not so good. Those behaviors were wrong. And two wrongs never make a right.

  • jared

    Are you really serious Becca? These people may have logical paths that don’t coincide with mine, yours (which in some ways are similar), but is marginalizing, delegitimizing, and ridiculing a reasonable response? For much of my gay life as a severe minority in my locality, I experienced these three actions toward me. I overcame them through calm and intellectual discussions…. I’m not done yet, but I’m on my way. I can’t think of a single example in which antagonism ever wins, unless accompanied by physical force.

    I know you already don’t like me or my opinions based on other small conversations we’ve had on AB, but I can’t help but respond… believe it or not, I sincerely want the best for everyone and feel that open and honest discussion always trumps all else.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Lots of fallacies and poor thinking in this one.
    No one is fighting for my freedom. Maybe the ACLU, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood, but that’s about it. The military fights for oil so it can keep doing military stuff, full stop, by executive order since 1979 and by consensus since the 1920s. The military operates to maintain the financial supremacy of our big business friends since the beginning of the country.
    It is impossible for everyone to have their own little farm and live off the grid. I know people who do it and they depend on outside inputs every day, from cash to feed to seed to water to fertilizer to gas for the chain saw. We won’t go back without kicking and screaming and we will go back to steam engines and coal first. Even little house on the prairie depended on Nellie Olson’s store.
    And nobody has to completely eliminate carbon. Its a reductio ad absurdum argument, all or nothing, when through simple and cheap steps we could save money, cut usage, reduce emissions, and have better, cooler new stuff as the market, pointed in the right direction, makes the new tech cheaper and better just like cell phones and cars.
    Or we can just keep doing what we’re doing and generate another geologic strata of dead things that couldn’t keep it together.

  • rational_eyes

    I ride my bike to work every so often. I do acknowledge there is a problem. All I suggested was a group effort. Your total effort to drop off the grid would equal small measures by everyone. If you can’t do that, then don’t expect anyone to take the issue seriously. There are people in this country risking their lives for your freedom, just your freedom, not the planet itself. If you can’t make that sacrifice with the planet’s livability in the balance, why would you expect someone who doesn’t think it will be the end of humanity to take even small measures?
    Buy a plot of land, grow your own food, off the grid, no lamps at night, no travel except by bike or horseback. Do you think this is impossible to do? Do you think it has never been done? Do you think your carbon footprint would be bigger or significantly smaller? How many “small measures” would you account for by doing this?
    Your “many small measures” are the sacrifices you expect of others, that you won’t make yourself.

  • theresagoudy

    just as Paul implied
    I didn’t even know that a student able to make $5848 in 1 month on the
    computer . visit this site

    W­­O­R­K­S­­7­7­­.­C­O­­M­

  • dcinsider

    Exactly, I think.

  • ShelbySkinnerura321

    my
    step-dad recently bought a fantastic silver Mercedes-Benz E-Class Hybrid from
    only workin part-time on a pc at home… visit this website F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Science is fundamentally socialist; results are shared, technology and medicine advance, and we all benefit together. It’s what gave you that fancy color television sose you could watch the Focks Newz.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Fallacy of false dilemma. Plus boring petulant rant. The point is that many small measures can have positive effects; and were we to take the issue seriously a significant group effort could be made to mitigate adverse effects and reduce emissions; stop digging the hole we’re in and purchase a ladder.
    I bet you could use a nice relaxing bike ride about now!

  • Dustin Wagner

    “Quite simply, this kind of behavior needs to be marginalized,
    delegitimized, and ridiculed, the same way we’d laugh a flat Earther out
    of the room.”

    HERE, HERE!!!!!!!

    I VERY MUCH agree with what you have said Becca. I personally use this to define who I will and will not interact with. I am lucky in that my family is reasonable as are most of my friends.

  • PeteWa

    keep your anti-social personality disordered politics out of science.

  • rational_eyes

    47% of Americans will attempt to reduce other humans CO2 emissions. 47% of Americans will adapt to any changes brought on by the emissions. The absolute number of each group will be reduced by the futile attempt of the first 47%. Which is the actual goal. If you can’t reduce the footprint, reduce the number of feet. You really need to stop worrying so much.
    I would love to see each of you practice what you preach though. NO gas, NO electricity. NO propane. NO wood burning. Just the energy of your body. If you are connected to the grid in anyway, you are using forms of energy that require CO2 emissions. If you can’t do that, then it doesn’t seem to be as big an issue as you say. Or you just don’t care… kind of like Rex Tillerson.
    I do not feel the need to sacrifice for your fears. So do it yourself first. Including getting off the internet. All of you. Now, we only have 500 days, or 496 now I think.

  • emjayay

    OK, I’m just not sure. Is that the kind of snark that supposed to clue you in by being twice as stupid as anyone could possibly imagine a real comment could be, or is it a real comment that is twice as stupid as anyone could possibly imagine a real comment could be?

  • pvequalkt

    cuz NH is practically in Canada… and it’s colder there than here.
    cuz it only felt cold compared to the hotter summer you had.
    And I really need to know where Vanna White is on this subject. I’m all tingly waiting for her to tell us.

  • pvequalkt

    First, kudos to GP for another brick in the climate change wall.
    Second, kudos to BeccaM below for a fine response that augments the fine work of GP.
    Hopefully what I have might augment further.
    We not only have projections based on recent historical data, current knowns wrt carbon spewage, and knowns as to the amount of carbon that is available to contribute under conditions as they are. We also have the historic record via geology, ice et al which show that we haven’t seen atmospheric carbon in these numbers in a couple million years… and the seas were many 10s of meters higher back then. One can extrapolate easily given these…
    And never discount the still relevant amounts of money that gummint (= plutonomy) contributes to higher learning in the form of research grants and such. If academia are, shall we say circumspect, wrt their projections, it may well be their aversion to being summarily cut off from the admittedly waning gummint/plutonomial teat. I would GUESS that administration would be much more sensitive to the truth’s potential affect on funding from big money than would be the researchers… but … human nature and all.

  • pappyvet

    I understand the caution that scientists exercise and see the need for it in an atmosphere where much of what science disseminates becomes easily politicized. Even the age of the earth is now debated to an extreme that is difficult for rational people to understand. The damnable shame of it is that there are so many who will refuse to accept that the boat is sinking until they themselves are under water. It doesn’t matter how many others may suffer. It can always be put down as God’s will against wicked people or a freak occurrence or as game show host Pat Sajak tweeted that climate change is bunk put forth by unpatriotic racists. A truly stupid and hateful comment. But one that will be echoed by those who have a vested interest in either not believing or not giving a damn.

    So the science will not matter to many. This being the case , tell the unvarnished truth. Back it up with science . Do not be pressured to give “under-predict.” If you have the facts , state them clearly. The fear of ridicule is a strong emotion to be sure. But to err on the side of caution and safety is always preferred. It is much more forgivable to explain that we over predicted to a living population than explain that we “under-predicted”

  • citizen USA

    Keep the socialist politics out of science.

  • cole3244

    obviously things are much worse than we are led to believe but that won’t s top the deniers from denying and telling people what they want to hear, reaganesk i would say.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Some of the denialism, without a doubt, is due to the fact it’s billionaires and their corporations who do not want their short-term plundering to be hindered in the least. It’s why they hire PhDs who’ll gladly adopt the tactics of the Creationists, constantly insisting ‘the science isn’t in’ or ‘there’s no consensus’ on the incipient climate catastrophe.

    We have the ice cores. The air bubbles in ancient rocks. And lots more. The Earth has never had a CO2 level above 400 ppm and ice caps at the same time. That CO2 (and methane and lots of other greenhouse gases) didn’t come from nowhere. It didn’t magically appear out of nothing. There have been no super volcanoes exploding. There literally is no other reality-respecting explanation other than “we humans put it there.”

    However, some of our problem now — at least here in America — is the Republican party has become a party of dogmas. Of beliefs that are increasingly divorced from facts, reason, and rationality. Quite simply, this kind of behavior needs to be marginalized, delegitimized, and ridiculed, the same way we’d laugh a flat Earther out of the room.

  • jared

    There are really big and difficult structural problems with getting data published in the scientific community. These are things that the data collectors as well as PIs have to deal with on a regular basis. And let me add that they aren’t just swept under the rug, they are being discussed and worked out, albeit very slowly. Here’s a simple example that may help to elucidate my point. If I measure something six times and one of those data points is out in left field, I have to ask myself some very serious questions. Was it a measurement error? Was it real? Do I have the time to figure it out? If I include it in the paper without exploring it’s validity, will the peer reviewers still publish my results? I don’t have an exact figure, but the vast majority of the time, it’s not only easier, but necessary to toss out that data point for the sake of at least getting some results out there. Along the same lines, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get results published which downplay controversy. At some point, a lot of scientists have to come to terms with this and realize that if they are going to be able to continue to work in the field and pay their bills and have a family life, they have to pick their battles. Again, not easy or obvious stuff.

  • dcinsider

    I get really tired of you so-called “climate change” advocates saying that we deniers are wrong. You may have all the facts on your side, but when have facts ever been helpful to a debate? We have said, repeatedly, that you are simply wrong, and all you can do is throw some ridiculous scientific facts in our face and claim that global warming is real.

    Well, let me ask you this, if global warming is real, how come it was cold in NH this winter?

    There. See?

    And, oh yeah, Pat Sajak agrees with me so I MUST be right!

  • pappyvet

    Matt Hooper: I’m familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass! Jaws

© 2014 AMERICAblog News. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS