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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Strangled science: Govt asks dumb questions and scientists lie to get grants

It’s just another way the bureaucracy is throttling science. In grant applications the government asks scientists to tell us what impact the discoveries they haven’t made yet will have on the world. The scientists dutifully make something up, knowing the whole process is unscientific, but what does it matter? A little lie here, a little lie there and pretty soon we’re rewarding corruption.

Does Government-science punish the honest? Everyone behaves as if it does:

Another professor in Australia said: “It’s really virtually impossible to write an (Australian Research Council) ARC grant now without lying.”

Times Higher Education

Academics ‘regularly lie to get research grants’

Scholars in the UK and Australia contemptuous of impact statements and often exaggerate them, study suggests

A new study anonymously interviewed 50 senior academics from two research-intensive universities – one in the UK and one in Australia – who had experience writing “pathways to impact” (PIS) statements, as they are called in the UK, and in some cases had also reviewed such statements.

It was normal to sensationalise and embellish impact claims, the study published in Studies in Higher Education found.

We reward those who exaggerate, then [...]

US Republicans vote to spend more on hard science, less on social-climatey type stuff

US Republicans have passed a bill through the House (but not the Senate yet) aiming to get back some control over the 7 billion dollar science budget. Previously the National Science Foundation (or NSF) had all the fun in dishing out the dough, but the Republicans have had enough. Their wish list includes cutting social sciences by 55%, climate science by 8%, and putting extra money into biology, computers, engineering and hard sciences. It can’t come soon enough.

Critics are howling that this will politicize science, but it’s just the opposite. Science was already politicized, and thanks in no small part to the NSF itself. This would put control of the funding back slightly closer to the voters. The NSF is almost unaccountable to the taxpayer, and if the NSF had not wasted money on so many one-sided pointless extravaganza’s (like $5m for “climate games”) and tipped so much money into “behavioural” studies, the elected members would not be knocking at their door. The NSF has only itself to blame.

Ultimately, elected representatives have to be accountable for public spending, but they like to hand over control to a committee of experts. Said committee grows on the gravy train, and [...]

Imaginary hottest “fingerprints” found in extreme weather by failed models

Finally, for only the 87th time, climate modellers have uncovered the definitive proof they’ve been finding in different forms every year since 1988.

ARC extreme unscience – corrected at no cost to the Australian taxpayer. Click for a big printable copy.

They seek, and find, the most excellent propaganda they can pretend is science. Look, this is the specific handprint of non-specific climate-change! Everything bar climate-sameness is proof the climate changes. How inane? The unscientific vagueness gives this poster away as being more about propaganda than about communication of science.

… in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, examining extreme events around the world during 2013, a series of papers home in on the Australian heat waves, and identify a human influence.

Using short, noisy records, with flawed and adjusted data, it is possible to run broken climate models and show “definitively” that current heat-waves and hottest years are due to man-made emissions. And if you believe that, you could be gullible enough to be a Guardian journalist.

That is, climate models that do not include solar factors like magnetic fields, solar winds, cosmic rays, solar spectral changes, or lunar effects are able to [...]

Michael Brown, astronomer, says science is not about debate, people are too stupid to judge

Michael Brown, recipient of taxpayer funds for astronomy, tells us that science is not about debate because people are not smart enough to judge the winner. He doesn’t list any evidence to support his faith in climate models (he’s just part of the herd following the consensus pack). Nor does he have any serious scientific criticism of the NIPCC climate report. But he uses plenty of names, baseless allusion, and innuendo. In the article ”Adversaries, zombies and NIPCC climate pseudoscience” in The Conversation he resorts to a group smear (with the help of the taxpayer funded site) in the hope that people won’t listen to those who disagree with him. Apparently he can’t win a fair and open debate, so he’s doing what he can to stop one.

If science now has “Gods” who are above question, it’s not science, it’s a religion. A scientist who says “I’m right because I’m a scientist” is neither right nor much of a scientist. Brown is acting like a self-appointed High-Priest of the Climate Doctrine.

The NIPCC report is more balanced, more comprehensive, and more accurate than the politically-guided tome from the IPCC . It contains hundreds of peer reviewed references [...]

Coalition wants to stop wasting ARC funds on “futile research” – Here’s a few more suggestions

Cut those waste-of-time academic projects? Not a moment too soon.

If the Coalition wins the election they want to refocus the Australian Research Council (ARC). The first “wasteful” project mentioned is about adapting to climate change through public art. What a good omen…

Some ARC funds appear to be nothing more than disguised government advertising. That has to stop.

MILLIONS of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants for obscure research projects – such as the role of public art in climate change – will be scrapped or redirected to find cures for dementia and other diseases as part of a Coalition crackdown on government waste.

And a further $1.1 billion is expected to be returned to the budget bottom line from the scrapping of the carbon tax, under the Coalition election promises costings to be released today.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that as part of the Coalition’s budget savings measures, a dedicated team will be formed under its proposed Commission of Audit to re-prioritise about $900 million in annual Australian Research Council grants.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that a list of the types of grants that would no longer be funded under new and more stringent guidelines for [...]

Australia’s Big Science Vision – an eco-green form of sustainable mediocrity.

Where is the vision?

The Australian Government have reissued their research priorities for science. Sadly it’s infected with the eco-virus. There are seven “sustainables”, and ten aspects of “change”. When it comes to maximizing our competitive advantage, the first point is the development of “reliable, low cost, low emission energy.” Say no more. After applying a wheel-clamp to the economy, we’re paying scientists to figure out how to drive cars with wheel-clamps on.

The Australian Academy of Science “welcomes the release” which tell us exactly how useful they are. They think this is a “long-term, strategic vision for Australia”. I think this is an eco-pop wish-list of bland mediocrity on a dead-end road. It’s time for real scientists to ditch the current associations, which have forgotten what science is, and start some new ones.

What should Australian public funded scientists be discovering?

I envisage priority number one as stopping the ravages of disease and misfortune, conquering cancer, and the common cold, or at the very least, reducing asthma and diabetes. As a bonus we’d sell the products for trillions to a clamouring world, to make us rich beyond our wildest dreams, the envy of the world, and a top destination [...]