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The worst possible thing for discovery is to throw more government money at it

The story of three kinds of curiosity — two genuine, one “induced”

Several wise men foresaw the decline of organized science. Here, a man called Gordon Tulloch was inspired by Popper to look at the social organisation of scientists to try to figure out what made it work. He noticed there were three kinds of researchers, one driven by curiosity for the truth, another on a mission to solve a problem, and a third with an “induced” curiosity created by demand from elsewhere — boss or government. He predicted that the system would fail if those who were induced outnumbered the truly curious, as the “induced” curiosity was not well connected to reality, whereas the other two types were. The primary aim of the induced researcher was not to solve a problem or uncover an answer but just to keep their jobs, and there were many ways to “keep their jobs” that did not involve actual discovery. Indeed for some jobs, thinks Jo, actual discovery could be a catastrophic event.

He foresaw a degenerative spiral which appears to have come to pass. Once induced researchers are managed by people without enough skill to read and assess their papers, the managers have to rely on publishers and editors to assess the work instead. But the editors of the publications are selling subscriptions to “induced” investigators — “…so a self-perpetuating process might be set in motion to a point where “a journal read only by people motivated by induced curiosity gradually slipped away from reality in the direction of superficially impressive but actually easy research projects”.”

And ain’t it the way… as the number of people with real curiosity are diluted in the field, they cannot possibly review the submissions of the induced. Before long the conclusions of the induced become the only accepted conclusions. In this way thinks Jo, the worst possible thing you can do to discovery is to get the government in and let them throw lots of taxpayers money at it. For that will surely kill real discovery stone dead.

The government is strangling science. The more money it spends the more real scientists are forced out. In the terminal stage the point of a “scientist” becomes inverted 180 degrees. Instead of questioning the orthodoxy, the neo-”scientist” is there to maintain it.  —   Jo

Gordon Tullock on the debacle of climate science

Originally posted on Catallaxy by Rafe Champion

Why have so many apparently reputable scientists endorsed “the climate caper”? The book of that name by Garth Paltridge provided some clues (scientists like to eat) and it helps to follow the money. But more is required to account for the extent of corruption that has infected parts of the scientific enterprise.

Gordon Tullock in The Organization of Inquiry (1966) helpfully provided an explanation in advance of the event. Karl Popper and Michael Polanyi inspired Tullock to write the book, and Popper himself provided a clue even earlier, in a 1945 paper, later published in The Poverty of Historicism. Popper proposed that some aspects of science should be explained in terms of institutions, traditions and the social context of science. In particular he suggested that scientific progress could be arrested by government control of the laboratories and journals, and by restrictions on free speech. Acute observers might have noticed some of that going on lately.

Under the influence of Popper, Tullock embarked on a project to explore the social organization of science and the way that scientists who he considered to be highly individualistic, nevertheless were highly coordinated. He was impressed by the way the formal and informal rules of science appeared to keep scientists honest and productive

The most effective way of ‘organizing’ science seems to be the most perfect laissez faire. This, however, is a superficial view. Science is not unorganized. There exists a community of scientists, and this community is a functioning social mechanism which co-ordinates the activity of its members.

Three kinds of curiosity

In addressing the issue of pure and applied research he identified two kinds of investigators, motivated by two different kinds of curiosity: one kind of curiosity drives the quest for truth and the other is directed towards solving practical problems. He described a third kind of curiosity, essentially a modern development – the “induced curiosity” of the nine to five scientist and also academics who are trapped on the publish or perish treadmill.

Investigators who are motivated by the first two kinds of curiosity are fully engaged with the real world, either to explain it or to make it work better but investigators in the third category may care about the real world but they do not need to if they can get away with it by publishing papers which do not advance knowledge or stand up to the test of practice. For him (sic)

Scientific concern with the real world is secondary to other matters. If he could establish and maintain his reputation, and hence his job, by reporting completely fictional discoveries, this would accomplish his end. The genuinely curious and the practical researchers have to get involved with real phenomena but “induced” investigators could simply ignore reality if there is not too much risk that they will be found out.

Tullock observed that managers of induced researchers may have difficulty in keeping the work in touch with the real world, especially if, like university administrators and public service bureaucrats, they are too busy or unqualified to even read the publications. Mostly they depend on the number of papers published in more or less respectable journals. He then sketched a scenario where the serious researchers are diluted by a massive influx of Kuhn’s “normal” (uncritical) scientists and the standards of the journal slip, so a self-perpetuating process might be set in motion to a point where “a journal read only by people motivated by induced curiosity gradually slipped away from reality in the direction of superficially impressive but actually easy research projects”.

Before the ranks of induced researchers were bloated by massive government funding the tendency to degeneration was kept under control by the serious and the applied scientists who would have protested if the contents of the journals were not helpful. He speculated about the kind of conditions that which could undermine the quality of the published work by “induced” investigators. One is a lack of practical applications for the research and another is the development of very complex methods of treating subjects which can be readily handled by simpler methods. He instanced calculus where simple arithmetic would suffice and topology instead of plane geometry. Technical sophistication trumps curiosity, imagination and criticism (including testing).

Political correctness: the end of the road

At the terminal stage of degeneration, Tullock described a situation where “there is a belief in the field that the function of the researcher is to uphold some particular point of view”.

When the point of view assumes a great deal of significance, simply presenting a rationalization for some position chosen on other grounds may be acceptable as an objective of research, and the principal criterion in judging journals may become their points of view. The concern with reality that unites the sciences, then, may be absent in this area, and the whole thing may be reduced to a pseudo-science like genetics in Lysenko’s Russia. Again, these symptoms may be found in some of the social sciences.

At the time that he wrote, in the 1960s, he thought that the traditional system of controls was still working in the natural sciences, if not in the social sciences. But times have changed and it appears that his worst case scenario has come to pass in large parts of the mainstream of government funded climate science.

More on Gordon Tullock, surely the most under-rewarded economist of recent times.

_____________________________________________________________________

Extra — For Discussion, and from Jo: What funding model can we use?

I don’t have time to explore this today, but Philippa Martyr discussed some ideas on Quadrant: Taken for Granted, and  Commonwealth Funds Medical Research.

See also Tony Thomas on The Settled Science of Grant Snaffling for examples of just how deadly government funding can be:

“Here are some “fundamental discoveries” from the feminist glaciology paper:

“In geophysicist Henry Pollack’s articulation, ‘Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It is not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it crosses the threshold from solid to liquid. It just melts’ (Pollack, 2009: 114).”

Glaciers are under-studied from a feminist viewpoint ”that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology.”

I think government funding doesn’t have to be awful for science if there is an equally strong competitive private, independent sector. By independent, I don’t mean a government funded CRC, or some other pseudo-independent entity like the very dependent “Climate Commission”.

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The worst possible thing for discovery is to throw more government money at it, 9.0 out of 10 based on 99 ratings

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91 comments to The worst possible thing for discovery is to throw more government money at it

  • #
    Annie

    That’s very interesting Jo. I must have a good think about this. It seems to hit a few nails on the head!

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      The temptation for gratuitous advertising is overwhelming. Some Amazon ebooks including short guides to the major works of Karl Popper.

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      • #
        DHF

        Great article.
        I have seen your blog on Critical Rationalism, and wondered what you would think about what is going on within climate science. Now I know.

        I look forward too see more. I wonder what you think about United Nations inducements. :)

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        DHF

        To be precise, I see that Critical Rationalism is not your personal blog, but you are a contributor.

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        Paul Deacon

        Popper! Would’st thou wert living at this hour!

        Karl Popper wrote his lovely work “The Open Society and its Enemies” during World War 2, while living in Christchurch, New Zealand, when he was lecturer at Canterbury University College (the precursor to the University of Canterbury). He took up the post because it would free up the academic post in England to likely be filled by a worthy refugee from Nazi Germany/Austria. When writing the book, he struggled with source material, for example, he did not have a proper critical edition of Plato’s writings (in Greek of course).

        He modestly described “The Open Society and its Enemies” as his contribution to the war effort.

        “The Open Society and its Enemies” is surely the most important book (2 books, actually) ever written in New Zealand. A fact you may not hear shouted from the rooftops.

        Paul Deacon
        Christchurch, New Zealand

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      • #
        Mari

        I have been taking on K Popper for a few years now, reading and re-reading each book I get, going on, going back. Mostly the philosophy, for now, as I am not a numbers person and get easily thrown by physics. Popper has much to say that I like, and as I go through my small library of his works I find I want more. Thank you for the short guides link, it will help me immensely.

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      Bill_W

      Interesting. I would say that this is more likely to happen in fields that are or have become politicized. I don’t see the same types of problems in medically related fields. Not nearly as many, at any rate. There are other problems in these fields related to reliance on statistical methods that the authors misuse, and the publish or perish mentality. But, at least in these fields, they are still trying to solve a real problem that you can test your results in the real world.

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      • #
        Mari

        I’m noticing quite a bit of funding to NIH, CDC (or whatever they call it now) here in the US is based on what the Feds are interested in or not interested in – Ebola has been left to languish until the last big outbreak, then a huge scramble to apportion resources was made. And the funding to both get cut when budgets need balanced and there aren’t any “sexy” diseases, outbreaks, etc. happening – and budgets are cut nearly every year it seems now.

        In the USA the big centers receiving funding MUST make the various layers of government (Federal for certain, State as well in a some cases?) happy or they get a reduced or eliminated funding. This is medical, biological, climate, financial – anything science or science-like the feds fund.

        Private think tanks get their funding from where they can, and must produce -results- to continue getting funding. The results must be usable in the real world, none of the non-government funders of research (and development) really want to toss all their money down a pipe with no possibility of return.

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  • #

    Your article reminded me of the story of Trofim Lysenko and Soviet politics

    Lysenkoism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    “Lysenkoism (Russian: Лысе́нковщина) was a political campaign against genetics and science-based agriculture conducted by Trofim Lysenko, his followers and Soviet authorities. Lysenko was the director of the Soviet Union’s Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenkoism began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

    The pseudo-scientific ideas of Lysenkoism were built on Lamarckan heritability of acquired characteristics.[1] Lysenko’s theory rejected Mendelian inheritance, the concept of the “gene” and departed from Darwinian evolutionary theory by rejecting natural selection.[2] Proponents falsely claimed to have discovered, among many other things, that rye could transform into wheat and wheat into barley, that weeds are spontaneously transmuting into food grains, and that ‘natural cooperation’ was observed in nature as opposed to ‘natural selection’.[2] Lysenkoism promised extraordinary advances in breeding and agriculture that never came about.

    The campaign was supported by Joseph Stalin. More than 3,000 mainstream biologists were sent to prison or fired or executed as a part of this campaign instigated by Lysenko to suppress his scientific opponents. The president of the Agriculture Academy was sent to prison and died there, while the scientific research in the field of genetics was effectively destroyed until the death of Stalin in 1953.[2] Research and teaching in the fields of neurophysiology, cell biology, and many other biological disciplines was also negatively affected or banned.[3]

    The term Lysenkoism is also used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.[4]“

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      tom0mason

      Lysenkoism was powered by the corruption of the ‘cult of the personality’, as the Russian system had devalued real monetary wealth, and hence the risk/reward calculation, out of the system.

      The current situation of “induced” scientific curiosity (or crony science) is powered by the corruption of ‘induced’ fiat money, where monetary wealth and value is debased by the stroke of the government’s bureaucratic pen in inventing currency. Currency that now has only debt as it’s intrinsic value. Crony science is funded by big Government Crony Capitalism and its fiat money system.

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    • #
      Owen Morgan

      Sorry, Jo, because, this is OT, but can anyone tell me what the Russian suffix “-schina” signifies, please? It’s in the title of Mussorgsky’s opera, “Khovanschina”, named after the principal character, Khovansky. A part (the very worst part) of the Soviet Purges was known as the “Yezhovschina”, after the murderous head, at the time, of Stalin’s not-so-secret police, Nikolai Yezhov. The Russian in Betty of Adelaide’s post transliterates as “Lisenkovschina”, but the other examples suggest that “-schina” doesn’t actually translate as “-ism”, as in “Lysenkoism”, which would imply a doctrine, albeit a spectacularly misconceived one, rather than referring to a particularly gruesome time.

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    • #
      Dariusz

      The lesser known fact was the imprisonment of 10,0000 geologists 10,000 in the gulags. In fact the geos were so scared of failure they often copied results of other successful wells claiming non-existent discoveries.
      I am currently looking at Russia, west Siberia, and the regimented way the science was done during USSR is mind bogling. Their failures obviously creates lots of opportunities in this region for guys like myself.

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      • #
        Peter Miller

        Many years ago, I used to visit the huge Norilsk nickel and palladium mine north of the Arctic Circle in northern Siberia.

        In the late 1930s, so I was told, the mine was running out of ore, so they dragged one of Russia’s leading geologists out of the gulag and he was told he would be given his freedom if he could find some more ore. Apparently, he was given a budget of 30 holes to find the new ore.

        After 29 near barren holes with just a few sniffs of nickel, the geologist was not surprisingly becoming a tad nervous. Anyhow, the drill was being moved to its final site, when during the night some bears came into the camp during the night and scared off the horses hauling the drill rig. In desperation, the next morning the geologist resigned himself to drilling the last hole on the site where the drill rig had been abandoned by the horses.

        As you can probably guess, the hole contained fabulous mineralisation and resulted in the discovery of the world’s richest mine, still in production today.

        And the point is?

        Arguably, this is a case of induced curiosity which turned out right, unlike most of today’s climate scientists, who are under no illusion that should they not produce research results, which 100% meet the requirements of the Klimate Establishment, then there are very serious career/employment consequences.

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      • #
        Dariusz

        Apologies “10,000 geologist” and second figure is out….,too much wine and too much cut and paste

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  • #
    Dave Barnes

    I enjoyed this article and feel it received a much lower rating than it deserves. When I think about scientific research in universitys and government labs since the 60s and 70s, I note that people who are good at research find it enjoyable and they tend to stick with it. People who are not so good and do not enjoy research tend to move into administrative positions. The result is second and third raters tell first raters how to do their jobs and, indeed, decide what those jobs will be.

    We need to return to selection of Professors and lab Directors based upon their research performance rather than their abilities on committees.

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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Dave:

      admirable as that sounds how would it be achieved? Those currently telling people what to do will continue doing so. “We must have value for money” will be the excuse despite the mess that system has now caused.
      How will the able scientists be selected? Politicians have no idea who is any good, they will be impressed by the glib, the fluent and those reinforcing their prejudices, (1) not by someone struggling to explain why their work is important or even relevant.
      The other problem is that someone “out to find the truth” may be an unreliable guide to its importance (2) .
      The third problem that I see is that those “on a mission to solve a problem” and possessed of the ability to do so, are rather thin on the ground and much less likely to be willing to accept controls, continuous reporting and review by those not expert in the field.

      (1) The fluent and the glib will also seek to mould public opinion, which also pressures the politicians. Is it any coincidence that we are bombarded with claims about imminent
      climate catastrophes. It is true that some people, even some politicians, are wondering why it hasn’t happened yet.
      (2) Consider those who accept and spend years trying to resolve the difficulties. Refer to The Midwife Toad or the Piltdown Man.
      (3) These are the very people you need, but they are rare, and even rarer in Government employ because they despise red tape and its waste of their time. And are the least likely to accept promotion to an administrative position.

      One thing is certain, a culling of government scientific ranks and university staff would Improve the quality of the output.

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      • #
        Ross

        Graham
        A way to solve some of the problem is to have so the scientists at the work face can earn more than the CEO of the organisation. Obviously this would require some sort of grading system in the salary structure but it is possible (eg. the Malaysian teaching set up has this type of arrangement). If it was in place it allows to the top scientists to do what they do best without the need to go into admin for financial advancement and it could limit the the CEO role to pure admin.

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      • #
        el gordo

        ‘How will the able scientists be selected?’

        Simmonds should be retained because of his integrity and there maybe others.

        http://www.co2science.org/articles/V19/mar/a8.php

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    • #
      graphicconception

      their abilities on committees

      Isn’t that a summary of what is wrong elsewhere in the world as well?

      The bureaucrats in the EU and the UN are steadily changing the world into what they think it should be. We have politicians in the UK who have no real world experience at all. Just school, university – culminating in a degree in philosophy, politics and economics – then into some sort of government role. They advance because they are “good on committees” not because they have anything to add to the discussion.

      They don’t need any principles to make career progress. They never need to make a decision and stand by it. Any decisions will be “collective”. Any individual can walk away from such a decision at any time and blame “the others” or “their advice” – just as the politicians will do when the AGW debacle comes to a sticky end as it surely must.

      It also highlights why the two sides find it difficult to converse. One side comprises “rugged individualists” who just want to get things done without all the red tape while the other side thinks the job is the red tape.

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  • #

    Very interesting article Jo – thank you – it reminds me of Eisenhower’s valedictory about government funded science and his ‘gravely to be avoided speech…

    A real puzzle here – so many of our well intentioned activities seem to end up as they evolve achieving diametrically opposite results to those intended – law making by politicians and the ‘unintended consequences’ of so much of it is another example…

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    • #
      Mike

      Didn’t know any government actually had money of its own that it didn’t have to borrow from private creditors….. Maybe once upon a time before banks like the Commonwealth Bank were privatised.

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  • #
    Robert R

    Brilliant article. The old saying “necessity is the mother of invention” says it all. Research is only ever successful when there is an urgent need for accurate answers to pressing problems.

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    • #
      Another Ian

      There is an unstated other half on what it is the father of.

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    • #
      Robert R

      If scientists who publish tend to be induced researchers, then it is easy to understand why the number of times a scientist publishes is inversely proportionate to the truth and veracity of their research results.
      Further evidence for this is that those researchers who actually do successful research tend not to publish their research results in order to obtain commercial or competitive advantage by keeping their results under wraps.

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  • #
    KinkyKeith

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with government funded scientific investigation and research but any research facility will only function to the same level of integrity and probity as is present in the community that they are funded by.
    Politics therefore must change and become more representative of a society which values higher standards of common sense and decency in its day to day working.

    Science will follow.

    It might be a long wait.

    KK

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    • #
      Yonniestone

      A noble idea KK that I truly hope will re-emerge in a post CAGW scientific enlightenment.

      Currently though such is the state of delusion that if the Litmus Test was presented in a practical demonstration it would be dismissed as denialist propaganda against the peer reviewed 97% accepted science of Phrenology.

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  • #
    John F. Hultquist

    April 1st is still a few days away.

    You did make all this up — right?

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  • #
    el gordo

    Government funded pseudo science needs culling.

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2016/03/02/yales-climate-change-program-out-gas.html?intcmp=hpbt2

    There are other scientific fields which could avoid the chop because of the monetary return on investment or perhaps an esoteric thought bubble on our point of being. All worthwhile in gaining government support, but the AGW zealots are no match for nature and should be looking for other work.

    Negative Feedbacks Rule

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  • #
    Glen Michel

    Yeah,well just try and get it displayed over at “The Conversation” where the third group are totally represented.

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    • #
      Damon

      ‘The Conversation’ really should be renamed The Monologue, as it has turned out to be merely a cheer squad for the opinions of (mostly) junior left-wing academics padding their CVs.

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    • #
      Clyde Spencer

      Not entirely. Although I frequently get insulted by some liberal Aussie by the name of “Mike.”

      00

  • #
    Yonniestone

    On Karl Popper here’s a link to Karl Popper quotes for anyone not familiar with him, I believe notable geniuses are always remembered in their time and the future as succinct thoughts resonate with great clarity to those that are ready to listen.

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    • #
      tom0mason

      And I would argue his truest, most important words came late in his life when he said –

      “I remained a socialist for several years, even after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”
      ― Karl Popper, Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography

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        diogenese2

        The core truth is that people are not equal. Each is a unique individual different, (i.e. not the same) from any other. Even those most genetically equal, identical twins, are different. Even Siamese twins develop different personalities.
        Popper is articulating the “egalitarian paradox” that is – to achieve equality you must treat people unequally. Difference starts with choice, therefore choice must be suppressed. Ability must be moderated by the use of handicaps.
        However, there must always be custodians exempt from the process otherwise equality becomes anarchy. The link to reality is provided by the “problem solvers” who still subject their output to test. The controllers can ignore this judgement for a while (i.e. renewable energy) but eventually the disaster thrusts itself forward (the subject of the last post).

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        • #
          C.J.Richards

          Waowh ! I think you have something there, but I’m going to have to get my round it.

          10

        • #
          sophocles

          Choice does NOT have to be suppressed, just constrained, eg: do as you like except … One constraint is no harm comes to others. Another is Individual accountability.
          Ability does not have to be moderated at all.
          Exempted custodians is an instant invitation to corruption. Quix custodiet ipso custodies? Even they must be constrained and their most important constraint is accountability.

          00

        • #
          PiperPaul

          “However, there must always be custodians exempt from the process otherwise equality becomes anarchy.”

          And the loud leftists of today think they will be those custodians once the glorious revolution occurs.

          00

  • #
    Damon

    ‘Taken for Granted’ is absolutely correct in at least one respect. The larger the research group, the higher the cost per publication eventually produced. Which is, I think, another, albeit indirect, verification of Parkinson’s Law.

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  • #
    pat

    re research scientist, Daniel Alongi, Australian Institute of Marine Science (Aims).

    Heartland wrote a piece recently about Alongi, which was carried by a few CAGW sceptic websites, but what I want to know is what happened to the court case?
    I can find nothing online since the date of ***15 February was set for his next court appearance.
    anyone know what happened to the case?

    19 Jan: Townsville Bulletin: Christie Anderson: Delay in Townsville climate scientist court case
    A CLIMATE scientist accused of defrauding his Federal Government employer of more than $550,000 had his case adjourned as defence counsel awaits more information about the allegations.
    Climate scientist Dr Daniel Alongi, who worked for the Australian Institute of Marine Science, appeared in Townsville Magistrates Court yesterday during the Commonwealth call-over…
    Magistrate Howard Osborne set the matter down to be heard again on ***February 15 and ordered Dr Alongi to appear in person…
    AIMS did not return requests for comment.
    http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/crime-court/delay-in-townsville-climate-scientist-court-case/news-story/3df5876463cb16a7324ec42d501a3d2c

    [No further news as far as we are aware. These things tend to drag out. - Mod]

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  • #
    pat

    Heartland article which accompanies Alongi comment #12 which has gone into moderation:

    14 Mar: Heartland: Tiffany Taylor: Climate Scientist Arrested for Fraud
    Meteorologist Anthony Watts said in a post on his popular climate website Watts Up With That he’s concerned Alongi may have falsified scientific findings to justify his expenses. Alongi has published 140 scientific publications and his work has been cited 5,861 times by other researchers.
    “If Alongi falsely claimed to have spent half a million dollars on radioisotope testing, it would look pretty strange if he didn’t produce any false test results, to justify the expenditure of all that money,” wrote Watts…
    Scientists Not Immune to Corruption’
    Alongi’s arrest marks the second time in recent months questions have been raised concerning the use of government funds given to carry out climate research…
    Morano says the press is contributing to the spread of scientific fraud by choosing only to advance the views of global warming alarmists.
    “By only promoting a fawning view of global warming claims, the mainstream media has also made the problem worse,” said Morano. “Normally, [the news media] is on the lookout for fraud and corruption, but [it] seems to turn away when it’s time to scrutinize climate change promoters.”
    http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2016/03/14/climate-scientist-arrested-fraud

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  • #
    Geoscientist

    Three kinds of curiosity:-

    “The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?”

    ― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

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  • #
    sophocles

    Not bad for a hoax paper. But I wouldn’t lay Glaciology at the feet of just Feminists.
    I think it’s a Female ability.
    An innate, natural Talent. :-)

    I’m male. I was married. Once. Long ago. I learnt my partner could freeze the surrounding atmosphere in almost no time, and to so low a temperature there was no need to measure it. Anywhere.

    She had a built in natural talent for Glaciology. but she was not a Feminist.

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      diogenese2

      Sophocles; Does your first sentence hint at your sad circumstance – that glaciation starts from the feet up?

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        sophocles

        Ah, a literalist. If you stand on a glacier, which part of you is likely to freeze first?

        “Sad circumstnaces?” I’m free and very happy thank you, there’s no time to be sad.

        00

  • #
    sophocles

    Research Funding;

    A National Research Fund is established. Contributions from government, private industry, entrepreneurs and members of the public can deposit into it. Researchers apply for funds. The only conditions applied to the pool is that it cannot be directed to any one topic of research.

    If someone wants specific research, they are free to fund it directly but not through the National Research Fund.

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      sophocles

      Condition Two:
      the applicant or applicants must be bona fide researchers. (This could be difficult to prove).

      Three: Results of research must be published and a copy of the paper all data is deposited with the Fund, which ensures public access to it. Should no Journal wish to publish it, the paper is still publicly accessible through the Fund.

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        Mari

        Free access? Many results and reports I would like to read are paywalled – at costs I cannot afford for papers I may not understand (at least, not right off, or not without help) and then must -save- somewhere in case I’d like to refer back to it at some point. Free sources for such papers are not always found where they were last located. If I am putting my money, whether by taxation or donation, into research, I’d like to access it without paying yet again.

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    David Maddison

    OT

    Conventional geology says Antarctica has been iced over for the last three million years.

    However, there are supposedly ancient maps which accurately depict Antarctica as it is beneath the ice despite the fact that marine chronometers to compute longitude have only been available since the late 18th century.

    Graham Hancock has suggested that Antartica may have been partially ice free 10-12,000 years ago and was mapped by an unknown ancient civilisation that could compute longitude and had ships which could get to Antartica.

    Note that the date for ancient civilisations is being pushed back all the time such as with the discovery of Gobekli Tepe built 10-12,000 years ago.

    What do you think? Graham Hancock video at http://youtu.be/OuwQi91KQgk

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      David Maddison

      I should add he also believes in giant crustal displacements which shifted by large amounts the positions of continents suddenly about 10-12,000 years ago. E.g. He said Antartica suddeny shifted 2,000 miles south. I find that extremely implausible and there should be a geologic record of such a cataclysmic event.

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        Dean from Ohio

        “… there should be a geologic record of such a cataclysmic event.”

        How about billions and billions and billions of dead things, laid down in water and sediment in positions of sudden death and even agony all over the world?

        How about coal seams stretching halfway across continents, without any root growth, and polystrate fossils cutting through supposed millions of years of sediment?

        How about warm water corals at the poles?

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      PeterK

      David: About 30-years or more ago, a novel by the name of ‘Hab Theory’ was published, I don’t remember the name of the author. The theme of the novel was that as the ice caps grew, this caused a wobble to the earth and eventually this reached a point of no return causing the earths crust to slip 45 degrees or so (can’t remember exactly). So based on your comments above, this is why Antarctica shifted as per the novel.

      It was an interesting read. The author used this novel to account for such things as the mammoths found frozen in the north with food still in their mouths and many other such scientific co-incidents / puzzles found all over the earth and not being able to explain what was discovered.

      Like I said, I enjoyed the read.

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        Louis Hissink

        Hugh Auchincloss Brown wrote his theory in the book ‘Catastrophes of the Earth’. His geology was a bit controversial but the general theory, given the physical constraints, was plausible. However having the Earth topple or careen around its axis by redistribution of its mass by polar ice accumulation, has one problem – nullifying the gyroscopic inertia effect of the rotating Earth by endogenous forces.

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      sophocles

      Antarctica settled into its current position and became iced over about 35 MYA (Mega Years Ago)

      Re: Graham Hancock:
      Graham Hancock had me turned off to his ideas within the first few minutes. He’s standing in front of Stonehenge and claiming “precise scientific” astronomical alignments. If he had said “approximate Mark 1 eyeball alignments” I would have watched more. When he claimed complete lack of knowledge about how or why Stonehenge was built, I have to accept his assessment of the state of his own knowledge as accurate.

      I’ve just finished reading (Professor) Mike Parker Pearson’s book “Stonehenge, a New Understanding: Solving the Mysteries of the Greatest Stone Age Monument” (published March 2014). He’s a professor of Archeology at the Univeristy of Sheffield.

      Stonehenge was built around 3000 BC to 2500BC (the Neolithic) in three stages. Stonehenge is a cemetery. It was for burying the kings or chieftains of the tribes or “realm” of Southern England. About 150 individuals were buried there. They were cremated and the “ashes” and any remaining bones sewn into a leather bag and interred in or around the monument. It’s construction has been dated by deer antler picks (digging tools) which were positioned in the bottoms of sarsen holes, bluestone holes, before the stones went in. Deer antler can be carbon dated.

      The error in the alignment of Stonehenge;s Heel Stone is about 3 degrees which is pretty good for eyeballing something as large and bright as the sun.

      Stones in Stonehenge “ weighing hundreds of tonnes? Que? Did I hear 250 tonnes? I was laughing so hard, I can’t remember and I can’t be bothered going back. The largest sarsen stone at Stonehenge weighs about 50 tonnes with lintels and the rest weighing in between 20-30 tonnes.

      That’s when I stopped watching. He;s an uninformed sensationalist. Prof Pearson presents the archeological evidence uncovered during excavations at Stonehenge over some considerable time.

      Dr. Mike Pearson’s book is very interesting reading. Try obtaining a copy through your library interloan service or purchase one, as I did, from amazon.co.uk.

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    Andrew McRae

    Wishing a very austere Earth Hour happy Hour of Power 2016 to all Jonovians this evening. :-)

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    ianl8888

    For those interested:

    Parrenin, F., Masson-Delmotte, V., Köhler, P., Raynaud, D., Paillard, D., Schwander, J., et al., 2013, Synchronous change of atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperature during the last deglacial warming. Science 339, 1060–1063

    You can find this through Google Scholar and Science is offering the entire paper free for simple registration.

    Why may this paper be interesting to some ?

    Because it challenges the standard geological interpretation of the Vostok ice cores as showing the rise in atmospheric CO2 lags the temperature rises by about 800 years. I’m still analysing my way through it.

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      Analitik

      The author’s version has been linked in on Euan Mearn’s site Energy Matters

      https://epic.awi.de/32547/1/parrenin2013s_accepted_all.pdf

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      Peter C

      Thanks ianl8888,

      That is a very important topic!

      I hope that Jo will turn it into a full post in the near future.

      If I understand it correctly the paper throws considerable doubt on the proposition that the Antactic Ice cores show that warming leads CO2 rise in the premeasurement era.

      I have not read the full paper, just the abstract and the first 2 pages. That was enough. Not because it is not a good paper, but because some of my doubts about the validity of the estimated timing of events were confirmed. The paper claims that temperature rise does not lead CO2 rise by 800 years. That is an artifact caused by the way snow gradually turns to ice with inclusion bubbles of air. How long does that process take? About 800 years!

      I also had a look at the Euan Mearns site which covers this issue.
      http://euanmearns.com/

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      Andrew McRae

      If that is true, surely all it does is show large scale evidence for Henry’s Law and the rapidity of CO2 equalisation between ocean and atmosphere. We already knew that. The top dozen metres of ocean can equilibrate quite rapidly on monthly timescales caused by changes in temperature.
      But there is only so much CO2 in those top couple of layers, to get the remainder observed you have to have vertical overturning bringing CO2-rich water from the deep. The authors say changes in AMOC are not needed to explain Temp/CO2 relationship. That still leaves everyday vertical mixing in the open ocean as another variable.
      Overturning speed would be proportional to both wind speed and diurnal temperature range. Temperature difference between equator and pole affects wind strength but not sure if that’s proportional or opposite.
      Anyhow, the CO2 rise rate would be overturning limited rather than temperature limited during the termination, as surface layer equilibration to temperature is so quick.
      The reverse causation (of CO2 warming) must be occurring to a small degree, but I doubt it will ever be possible to figure out the strength of that process from paleo data with all the temperature and dating uncertainties.

      It’s a very Gore-ish paper isn’t it? Like: The T and the C vary together closely, so the fastest-acting causal direction is whichever interpretation is most convenient to my employer.

      I’d like to compare their temperature reconstruction to solar activity, but haven’t found any centennial scale solar proxies that go back more than 10k years. Nothing in my own files anyhow.

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    Peter C

    From the extra/ for discussion section

    I think government funding doesn’t have to be awful for science if there is an equally strong competitive private, independent sector.

    Seems like back peddling after such a persuasive main article.

    If government funding is bad for science, then the quicker we get rid of it the better. How do we fund a private, independent sector?

    Let’s make more jobs for patent clerks and see if we can get more Einsteins.

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      Mari

      With the current climate in science and climate science – anything privately funded is subject to claims of denial and pay-off by “Big Oil” “Big Coal” and so on – sometimes with company names tossed in for good measure. While not trusting the government to do anything else right, many of those government doubters are swallowing the gloom and doom of government science. And so many -want- the UN to be good, neutral, law-abiding and helpful that any other depiction is brushed away as nonsense.

      Independent, private science MUST speak up, must publish, blog, go on tour (lecture circuit time you guys) and learn to publicize itself. Funders of private, independent science need to continue funding even when the results say – Hey, you ARE doing harm here, stop it -

      It can be done, but the independent positions and private positions need to be made more secure, pay better, or both, in order to attract the talent needed. Government work may be soul-crushing and discovery-killing, but it pays the bills – mortgage, car note, braces for the kids.

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    [...] Joanne Nova The story of three kinds of curiosity — two genuine, one “induced” Several wise men foresaw [...]

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    Joe Lalonde

    Jo,

    You deserve a great deal of thanks and gratitude for all the tireless hours to bring up topics and time you have engaged with keeping your site going for many years in allowing us to comment, be inspired or informed.

    My many years of thanks to you,

    Joe

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    Joe Lalonde

    I enjoy researching and be more knowable in many areas.
    You find many mistakes or find out if you have been taken.
    Currently, the US has had their media hijacked by government and business interests which over the decades have broken what their Constitution was suppose to represent by the government dictating and overstepping their original powers mostly due to the corrupt banking and business sector.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjb4is33rVQ

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    Robber

    Has anyone looked at the way Singapore continues to thrive? I know that the government has a very clear research strategy that involves attracting top scientists from around the world, but their focus is on practical research that is expected to lead to profitable outcomes.

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    Alexander

    Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.

    Commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, but unsourced.

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    Egor TheOne

    The one Constant of the Climate Change Fiasco : CAGW = BS

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    Geoff Sherrington

    A big problem – it takes near half a career to determine if a researcher is capable and should be encouraged. Really top people, earlier.
    Another – many projects using science lack a definitive way to measure success. Those that do, like parts of exploration geology, tend to be populated by those most cynical about cash based research. Note that this is not about applied versus basic research.
    Third – first principles arguments favour research being self-funded from its own success. Conversely, research paid for in advance will deliver invoices in advance of results. There is always a need for a pool of finance, a buffer, to get people through temporary tough times, the venture capital approach. Attention should be on optimising the operation of this buffer, not on creating more money handouts like the present ARC system.
    One of the big, present problems is the “me too” endorsement of “settled science” by learned societies. They show the bad properties of the committee that Tullock noted. (It would be interesting to subject the committee people of the Royal Society to a written exam on global warming.)
    At the end of the day, we have global science with major identified problems, but little effort to do formal work to minimise known problems. In the global warming case, groups like Heartland are valuable, but unloved. The larger system of politicians in bed with big cash in bed with mainstream media all complicit in indoctrinating our children, might not have a solution. When it gets big enough it becomes the will of the people and the democratic outcome. Ask Trump.

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    Dave in the States

    Political correctness is the opposite of academic freedom. Academic freedom is the key out of this mess. Poor research and faulty conclusions can always be eventually exposed if there exists academic freedom. Political correctness and gate keepers at every step curb academic freedom. Of course academic freedom means allowing those things you may strongly disagree with and you think are plainly wrong have a fair hearing as well. As long as things are allowed to stand and fall on their own merits amid fair and open debate the truth will eventually prevail. When we see Government attempting to prosecute skeptics, this is not academic freedom. When we see people demanding that only pal reviewed work be considered, that is not academic freedom. When we see privately funded research disregarded and government funded research not questioned, that is not academic freedom. When we see government grants allocated based on needed results by a political agenda, that is ripe corruption.

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    Tim Hammond

    It’s somewhat oversimplified. Science is full of humans with human motivations – greed, fame, proving you are right, proving he is wrong, mixed in with more noble intentions. Then you have two basic types of scientist – most believe that something is true and set out to prove out, some start with no belief and simply seek the truth.

    Science does a pretty good job of harnessing the human weaknesses to produce truth in the same way free markets do a pretty good way of harnessing human weaknesses to produce wealth. And starting with a belief and trying to prove it is fine provided there are plenty of others with different beliefs who are also trying to prove what they believe. Rancorous, rigorous debate ensures, and whilst it’s not always pretty, it usually gets to a useful truth.

    But exactly as with markets, if governments interfere in science by picking and choosing what is “right”, by funding “winners”, these natural controls fall away. Money and fame go only to those who toe the line and those who have a different belief are sidelined and ignored.Those with limited scientific abilities can become hugely powerful and influential because they can play the game, not because they produce great science.

    And of course it doesn’t have to be “government” in its purest sense that creates the problem – the guild-like mentality of professional organisations such as the BMA in the UK or its equivalents in the US can create the same problem, as we saw with the fat-causes-heart-attacks meme.

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    markx

    Good theory.
    But, as usual, the truth lies somewhere in between.

    Mariana Mazzucato author of The Entrepreneurial State

    Consider the technologies that put the smart into Apple’s smartphones. The armed forces pioneered the internet, GPS positioning and voice-activated “virtual assistants”. They also provided much of the early funding for Silicon Valley. Academic scientists in publicly funded universities and labs developed the touchscreen and the HTML language. An obscure government body even lent Apple $500,000 before it went public. 

    http://www.economist.com/news/business/21584307-new-book-points-out-big-role-governments-play-creating-innovative-businesses

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    Roy Hogue

    Since this thread has gone on for a while now I think I will point out the obvious, which is that it’s always been the government’s preferred method of dealing with anything to throw more money at it. It doesn’t matter which government or what the subject is, they only have the power to do one thing, throw money at it.

    Think about it. What politician is a research scientist or a scientist of any kind? What politician can solve education, engineering or any other kind of problems? Maybe a few but not many. They’re very adept at getting reelected but even there, they throw money at that problem too.

    If this points out anything it’s that the wrong people are in charge. As Ronald Reagan pointed out, “Government is the problem.” And it’s still the problem. :-(

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      Alexander

      Well, actually, government’s preferred method of dealing with anything is to throw money at its symptoms (rather than at the thing itself, or, Heaven forbid, its causes). Even worse, government, acting on behalf of its owners, spends that money in a manner that assures a a continuing cashflow that entrenches the relative status of its owners and their minions and chattels.

      The smart investor never invests in any enterprise with a ceiling, preferring to maintain some status quo without end. That way, start-up costs are amortized over a longer time, and empires grown as each new symptom is treated. Look at “healthcare” in this country (America) and elsewhere — the medical/insurance/pharma establishment seeks to kill us as slowly and as expensively as possible, which is immensely profitable. Were they to actually cure us (a ceiling), the cashflow would cease.

      And look at all the “Wars on Poverty, Crime, Drugs, Cancer, etc.” Every single one of them has not only perpetuated, but actively exacerbated, the conditions claimed to be the target. This has been to the advantage of the elite oligarchs and their fully-owned governments and front-men, and to the detriment of the rest of us.

      All this is entirely side from the prior agendas driving their choices of “investments.”

      Government is not the problem; it is a symptom of a more-fundamental malaise in our civilization.

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        Mike

        “exactly” IMO also.

        “Even worse, government, acting on behalf of its owners, spends that money in a manner that assures a a continuing cashflow that entrenches the relative status of its owners and their minions and chattels.”

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    John Robertson

    Dole Yeast.
    If a scientist is driven by curiosity, they will find a way to finance their investigations.
    If driven by material “needs” they should be in sales.
    We already have welfare.
    What other government funding is necessary for survival?

    The government has no money of its own, it must extort wealth from the productive to fund the useless and clueless that keep the Guild Of Parasites in power.
    As government is theft and destruction, government “scientists” are agents of same.
    Reduce theft remove government funding of useless,clueless activities.
    Watch the Universities implode.
    See civilization strengthened.

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    Kratoklastes

    There is an excellent chapter (Chapter 9) in an excellent book (How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking) that gives a very good description of inherent biases in research – taking John Ioannides’ 2005 paper (“Why Most Published Research Is Wrong”).

    The chapter starts with a parable, which is clever and funny…

    Imagine yourself a haruspex; that is, your profession is to make predictions about future events by sacrificing sheep and then examining the features of their entrails, especially their livers. You do not, of course, consider your predictions to be reliable merely because you follow the practices commanded by the Etruscan deities. That would be ridiculous. You require evidence. And so you and your colleagues submit all your work to the peer-reviewed International Journal of Haruspicy, which demands without exception that all published results clear the bar of statistical signficance.

    Haruspicy, especially rigorous evidence-based haruspicy, is not an easy gig. For one thing, you spend a lot of your time spattered with blood and bile. For another, a lot of your experiments don’t work. You try to use sheep guts to predict the price of Apple stock, and you fail; you try to model Democratic vote share among Hispanics, and you fail; you try to estimate global oil supply, and you fail again. The gods are very picky and it’s not always clear precisely which arrangement of the internal organs and which precise incantations will reliably unlock the future. Sometimes different haruspices run the same experiment and it works for one but not the other—who knows why? It’s frustrating. Some days you feel like chucking it all and going to law school.

    But it’s all worth it for those moments of discovery, where everything works, and you find that the texture and protrusions of the liver really do predict the severity of the following year’s flu season, and, with a silent thank-you to the gods, you publish.

    It goes on to wend its way through mechanisms (the ‘file drawer’ problem whereby only positive findings are published; problems of p-hacking – and of statistical inference generally) by which even a genuine researcher can find himself taking the first steps down the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.

    I propose that we refer to the High Priests of the Cult of Thermaggeddon as Haruspex Maximus – who somehow claim that their forecasts for the increase in the mean temperature 100 years out has a confidence interval that is less than a tenth of a degree wide… when the forecast for mean temp 10 years out has a wider forecast range than that. Somehow chained uncertainty reduces the forecast envelope – I think it helps if your work is only reviewed by others who think exactly the same as you (I doubt that a similar ‘International Journal of Geocentrism Studies’ would ever have found fault in any papers that fit the data using novel epicycles).

    Excellent Comment Kratoklastes – Jo

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    Mike

    “Extra — For Discussion, and from Jo: What funding model can we use?”

    That’s easy, Just fund the things that are wanted, and underfund or cease to fund the things that are not. Follow the money, or lack thereof.

    Hillary Clinton: “We Are Going To Put A Lot Of Coal Miners & Coal Companies Out Of Business”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksIXqxpQNt0

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    metro 70

    The same applies in education K-12.

    Subjects and treatment of them that induce amazement and awe in parents -ie ‘look at what our children are learning/doing these days!’-trump the difficult fundamental work of comprehensive grammar and numeracy in preparation for later study of STEM subjects.

    Post the advent of Social ‘Science’,the MSM STAR system, and the LW social engineering of the 70s,the image that can be gleaned from scientific, political and academic endeavor trumps substance, real progress and reality every time.

    Social science has something of an inferiority complex with regard to the natural sciences and seeks to bring them down to its level—with the indispensable help of an incurious usefully clueless LW MSM.

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    Leonard Lane

    Jo. Excellent article and discussion. Thanks

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    bobl

    Jo, I hope you actually read this. As I have written before the way that funding is dispensed needs an overhaul. Government science is not the problem but rather the way funding is allocated – we have an LNP government but do you see any change in the funding of left-activist causes? It’s the Cronyism within the system, the rigging of the system by the positioning of activists within that system that needs to be addressed. You could fix the problem by doing the following.

    1. Requiring that selection panels have a “Drafted” membership the composition of which changes for each period. IE: like a Jury is drafted to hear court cases.

    2. Not revealing the applicant or the applicants organisation to the jury (blind selection), IE: use merit based funding. Open up the funding process to any Australian whether or not they are hosted by a research organisation based on the merit – Let the market auction off that funded researcher to the highest bidder among the hosting organisations.

    3. End the requirement that the outcome of the research be stated in the application, assume the research is to find out the outcome. It is this one stupidity in the system that biases the result, Scientists are required to state the outcome they are expecting before they get the cash – when they get the cash they are heavily incentivised to find the outcome they have staked their reputation on finding. This isn’t science, it’s Engineering that’s what I’m paid for (turning theory into practise).

    4. Divide up the moolah consciously between Pure and Applied research to prevent Applied research from gobbling up everything.

    This is what we need to get through to our elected reps the funding process needs to be made blind, except to the technical merit of the case.

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    Wayne Job

    Excellent and timely article for me to comment. For around ten years my friend and I have been doing experiments on my property, he has been funding the research to fulfil a promise he made to a young woman whose father was locked up and died in prison because the powers that be did not like his findings. She died about two years ago just as our experiments were proving her father right.

    The experiment and the findings are somewhat bizarre, our ubeaut chief scientist knows of our findings and thought they were amazing, then put up his umbrella and hid behind it. What we have is outside the main stream paradigm thus dangerous to the standard model. Our results have proved repeatable but we are at a loss to know what force we are dealing with, my thoughts are the dark energy that makes up most of the universe.

    just recounting this stuff because we know what it is like being outside the in crowd.

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    ‘Taken for Granted’ is absolutely correct in at least one respect. The larger the research group, the higher the cost per publication eventually produced. Which is, I think, another, albeit indirect, verification of Parkinson’s Law..

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