JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Climate science hopelessly politicized. Geological Society of Australia gives up on making any statement

So much for the consensus.  In 2012 The Geological Society of Australia (GSA) was one of the few associations to make a slightly skeptical position on climate. For poking their heads above the parapet they’ve had years of headache and debate, and finally have issued a statement saying they have given up entirely on putting out any statement. The debate is so furious and divisive that no position could be agreed on. (I wonder exactly how many of their members are fans of climate models? Was this the work of just a few zealous believers?) I think I’ve hardly ever met a geologist who wasn’t somewhat skeptical.

The back story is that, like most science associations, in 2009 the GSA chanted the litany. (Their 2009 statement is here). They wrote that governments should take strong action to reduce CO2 and that meant paying geologists more to do research and sit on plum advisory committees. How predictable…

1. That strong action be taken at all levels, including government, industry, and individuals to substantially reduce the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the likely social and environmental effects of increasing atmospheric CO2.

2. That Earth Scientists with appropriate expertise [...]

APS reconsiders its position on climate — Scientific storm on the way?

Everything about associations and committees is so paralyzingly slow. But nearly four and a half years after 160 members bitterly complained about the American Physical Society (APS) statement on climate change, they are finally revisiting it, and there are very promising signs. They’ve appointed Richard Lindzen, John Christie, and Judith Curry, all either longstanding skeptics or sympathetic to skeptical arguments. That’s three of six. (Though I stress that I will remain skeptical until the new statement comes out. One other member, Ben Santer, has a record of rewriting conclusions of much larger committees, and other shenanigans*.)

In 2007, the APS improbably stepped out of the world of physics and into the world of policy and proclaimed:

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.

If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

In 2009, when 160 members of the APS protested, the council “overwhelmingly” voted to reject their proposal. (See how these things work? There are 47,000 members, of which 160 people took the effort and time to publicly protest, and then a [...]

Prof Antonino Zichichi (of anti-matter fame) is angry at climate science

You may not have heard of the World Federation of Scientists – it certainly isn’t run with a budget of millions or a professional PR team, instead it’s exactly the kind of organization that outstanding scientists would set up. No flash graphics, no spiffy logo, and no inundation of press releases. It’s only got two colours, but the people who meet and talk there range from world leaders in politics to people who changed the modern world with their science.

It’s the opposite of UN “science”, what it lacks in marketing skills, it more than makes up for in sheer heavyweight scientific brainpower and kudos. The Federation has 10,000 scientist members apparently, including T. D. Lee (parity violation, the Lee Model, particle physics, Nobel Prize) and Prof Antonino Zichichi (1000 papers in particle physics, first example of antimatter). Former members (until their deaths) were  Laura Fermi, Eugene Wigner (Nobel in Physics fundamental symmetry principles), Paul Dirac  (Nobel Prize, Dirac Equation, Fermions, theoretical physics, “genius”), and Piotr Kapitza (Soviet scientist, Nobel Prize and superfluidity, “Kapitsa resistance“).

Prof Antonino Zichichi founded the World Federation of Scientists and he’s angry at the state of Climate Science.

Christopher Monckton writes from the World Federation of [...]

The Royal Society that serves The Government does not serve The People

Paul Homewood follows the money to find Royal Society funding.

(Figures are rounded)

Even if we acknowledge that most of the money goes straight to research, there is a slab of money that goes straight to the Society:

So government funding (Parliamentary Grant in Aid) amounts to 67% of total income. Similar amounts have been fixed for a 5 year period to allow the Society to plan ahead properly. It is also worth noting the income generated from commercial activities, such as investment income and publications.

Government money is channelled through the Dept of Business, who insist that it is allocated to specific projects and programmes. Most of this is therefore paid out by the Royal Society in the form of research grants etc. However in 2010/11 £2,265,000 was allocated to “Support and Central Expenses”, in other words overheads costs.

[...]

Time for a new rigorous Association of Scientists

Below is the O so apt resignation of  Steven J. Welcenbach from the American Chemical Society (ACS). In it he describes how the largest scientific society in the world has become a non-scientific activist group bowing to political pressure and ignoring its members objections. Such is his ire and dismay, he is not only pulling his membership but vows to do all he can to make sure ACS does not receive public money. He suggests that many former members will form a new society that rigorously follows the scientific method (hear hear).

It’s time to start talking about that new society. What would we call this international coalition of scientists who demand the highest standards of reasoning, who expect that the society would be there to serve its members, not just serve the aspirations of the committee members, or grant-seeking-associates? What would be written into its constitution? Any large entity is a target for people seeking power or seeking to use science for their own purposes. How do we stop that decay?

Where is this science association that would never dream of uttering an ad hom, or argument from authority, and would never declare that the “debate is over” and [...]

The scientific world is fracturing

The rift between real science (the pursuit of truth) and PR-science (the pursuit of of money and power) is growing. Associations like The Royal Society, the APS, and the American Chemical Society are beginning to fracture internally as eminent members reject the unscientific pronouncements made on their behalf by small “secret and stacked” committees.

Hal Lewis comes from the elite upper levels of science — a physics professor at University of California (Santa Barbara), and a member of the Defense Science Board (a group of the top 40 or so, advising the Pentagon).

He’s resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) today, after 67 years. The APS is the world’s second largest organization of physicists, with 48,000 members. He is scathing of the fall from grace of the once renowned institution.

Anthony Watts is calling it “…an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door.”

For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you [...]

We have been conned

cartoonsbyjosh.com

You can’t buy the truth, but you can buy a committee interpretation of it.

One year ago a group of eminent scientists wrote a letter to congress provocatively titled “You are being deceived.”

Now, in a similar vein, but with all the gory details, John McLean has put together a 66 page compilation of the modus operandi and history of said deception. It’s a story of how small committees of activists cite their own work, ignore contradictory information and dissenting reviewers, use the peer review system to lock out opponents,  and blithely acknowledge crippling uncertainties (but only in tracts of text that few will read, and  never in summation when it matters).

Click to read the full article

When your favourite prancing-horse-committee — the IPCC — is failing to impress the crowds, it’s time to distract them with dressage from another source. In this case, the IPCC is being reviewed by the brand new InterAcademy Council (IAC). Expect their somber pronouncement to discover some minor flaws of process, posit a few proceedural improvements, and then declare that above all, the science is sound, rigorous, and that carbon dioxide will surely kill millions if we don’t allow the [...]

Science associations give science a bad name

In this story from The Australian, we have the ludicrous double-irony of subscribers paying to read a story that disguises how their own taxpayer dollars are used against them to fund the  propaganda that’s used to justify milking them for more taxpayer dollars….

Sometimes, you’d think media releases from science associations and universities were Commandments from God.

If football associations put out media releases that tried to whitewash the news of clubs rampantly breaking rules, or of officials letting them get away with it, or of umpires placing bets on the outcome of games they rule over, the sports journos would bake the officials, grill the umpires, and lampoon the clubs. But, when the topic is “science”, and the spokespeople have polysyllabic titles, they are untouchable.

Admittedly, there is that other effect: advertising. The Higher Education Supplement is designed to sell advertising space to universities, and asking the top dogs biting-hard questions is probably not the way to win big contracts (the journalists might be cynical, but Australian universities are a $12 billion dollar industry). And look in the last budget: There’s a neat pink icing on the cake in the graph below, thanks to the man-made theory of global warming. That [...]