Archive for the ‘Belgium’ Category

Fifty shades of fraud in Flanders

May 3, 2013

Following on from the publicity surrounding the Diedrik Stapel case, a new survey of medical researchers in Flanders confirms that fraud is fairly prevalent. This takes the form of making up data, manipulating data to make it match a hypothesis, plagiarism, double publishing (self-plagiarism), withholding undesirable research results, undeserved authorships or dividing research into as many separate science articles as possible (salami slicing). The article by Reinout Verbeke and Joeri Tijdink was produced with the support of the Pascal Decroos Fund for Investigative Journalism. One in twelve medical scientists admits to making up or ‘massaging’ data in order for it to match a hypothesis. And almost six in twelve see such fraudulent practices happening around them. They identify high publication pressure as one of the causes. Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch points out that for the medical research fraternity the high rewards from pharmaceutical companies can also play a role.

In November and December 2012 Belgian  science journalist Reinout Verbeke (editor of Eos Magazine) spread an anonymous survey on fraud and pressure to publish among scientists of the Medical Science faculties of all Flemish universities. ……..  Psychiatrist and researcher Joeri Tijdink (VU University Medical Center Amsterdam) collaborated on the survey. He did another sounding in 2011 in the Netherlands, before the scandal surrounding Diederik Stapel had broken out – the social psychologist who had made up data and experiments. For years nobody had been on to him. Stapel and his unsuspecting doctoral students and co-authors even made top magazines with their fictitious studies. Luckily though, such large-scale fraud is rather rare. ……..

Fifty shades of fraud

Fifty shades of fraud

The results of the Flemish survey are striking. Of the 315 participating scientists, four (1.3%) admit to having made up data at least once in the last three years. If what they say is true, this probably concerns fraud that is still undiscovered. 23 respondents (7.3%) admit to having selectively removed data or results to make research match a hypothesis, so-called ‘data massaging’. Overall, about 8% of the Flemish medical scientists admits to recently having made up and/or massaged data. The figures are worse than the international average. A meta-analysis of 18 scientific studies on fraud by Daniele Fanelli showed that on average 2% of all scientists (from different fields of study) admitted to having done similar practices at least once (PloS ONE, 2009). Why are the results among Flemish respondents even worse? “That doesn’t surprise me, because we are talking about medical scientists”, says American journalist and fraud expert Ivan Oransky from RetractionWatch. com. “Cooperating with the pharmaceutical industry gains researchers financial rewards. That could pressurise scientists to cut corners.” André Van Steirteghem, a pioneer in reproductive medicine and secretary of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), thinks there is something else at play. “There’s is a significant lack of openness on fraud and malpractice at Flemish universities. This survey asked scientists about their perceptions for the very first time. They were able to vent their feelings. I think that explains the high figures in Flanders.” We can even suspect malpractices in Flanders to be more wide-spread still. “Surveys have their limits”, says Daniele Fanelli. “Many cheaters won’t admit to having done it, or will falsely assume they have a clean conscience.” …… 

Scientific American reports on this story here.

Questioning global warming dogma is taboo in Belgium

April 15, 2013

Reproduced from The GWPF  because “questioning the impact of mankind on climate change is evidently still a taboo in the French-speaking world”. 

The authors of this paper recently presented their views on climate science at the Royal Academy of Belgium. No French or Belgian newspaper was willing to publish their assessment. Questioning the impact of mankind on climate change is evidently still a taboo in the French-speaking world.

Double Standards in Climate Change

István E. Markó a), Alain Préat b), Henri Masson c) and Samuel Furfari d)

a) Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)

b) Professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

c) Professor at Maastricht University

d) Lecturer at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

The conference on climate change held in Doha (Qatar) last December ended in failure once again. However, the news reported in the media about this 18th conference on climate change were fully in line with the well-rehearsed mantra: the Earth is warming up, human emissions of greenhouse gases are mainly to blame for this warming up, and we are approaching disaster. We have only one climate, but communication about it seems to be plagued by double standards.

For a few years now British, American, Italian or German media have given sceptical scientists the opportunity to express their opinions on the validity of the statements released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the organisation responsible for the official line of thought on climate matters. Nothing like that has been seen in the French or Belgian media which persist in portraying scientific sceptics, at best as sold out to the oil lobbies, at worst as troubled individuals, greedy for public recognition and fame and as such not worthy to be proponents in a serious debate.

The authors of this contribution were recently been granted the honour of presenting their point of view as climate sceptics at the Royal Academy of Belgium. During a series of six well-attended lectures we showed, among other things, that:

  1. The climate has always changed. This was true during ancient times and it has also been true since the beginning of the modern era. These climate changes have always been, and still are, independent of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere;
  2. During Roman times and the Middle Ages temperatures were observed well in excess of those currently experienced. From the 16th till the 19th century a cold period referred to as the “Little Ice Age” predominated. All these changes took place without mankind being held responsible. We believe that the increase in temperatures that occurred during a certain part of the 20th century is the result of a recovery from this cold period. These various events can be explained by a combination of warm and cold cycles of different magnitudes and duration. Why and how this happens is not yet fully understood, but some plausible explanations can be put forward;
  3. The so-called “abnormally rapid” increase in global temperatures between 1980 and 2000 is not unusual at all. There have in fact been several such periods in the past, during which temperatures rose in a similar manner and at comparable rates, even though fossil fuels were not yet in use;
  4. Temperature measurements do not necessarily correlate with a building up or a decrease in heat since heat variations are energy changes subject to thermal inertia. Apart from heat many other parameters have an influence on temperature. Moreover the measurement of temperatures is subject to numerous large errors. When the magnitude and plurality of these measurement errors are taken into account, the reported increase in temperatures is no longer statistically significant;
  5. The famous “Hockey-stick” curve, known as the Mann’s curve and presented six times by the IPCC in its penultimate report, is the result among other things of a mistake in the statistical calculations and an incorrect choice of temperature indicators, i.e. proxies. This lack of scientific rigour has totally discredited the curve and it was withdrawn, without any explanation, from subsequent IPCC reports;
  6. Even though they look formidably complex, the theoretical models employed by the climate modellers are simplified to the extreme. In fact there are far too many (known and unknown) parameters that influence climate change. At the moment it is impossible to take them all into account. The climate system is extremely complex, containing not only chaotic components but also numerous positive and negative feedback loops operating according to various different time scales. Which is why the IPCC wrote in its reports that: “…long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible” (page 774, Third report). This is very true. To this day all the climate predictions based upon these models have turned out to be totally incorrect. Strangely, nobody seems to care;
  7. The relationship between CO2 and temperature, obtained from the Vostok ice cores, shows that a building up of CO2 occurs 800 to 1000 years after an increase in temperature is observed. Hence the increase in the concentration of CO2 is a consequence of the warming of the climate, not its cause;
  8. But the coup de grâce to the “warmists’ theory” – certainly not yet visible in the French and Belgian media – comes from the observation that for the past fifteen years or so the global temperature of the Earth has remained constant. During the same period CO2 emissions have increased by far more than in the past, reaching an unparalleled record this year. Honest climate scientists admit that this observation is an embarrassing inconvenience for their theory. However, attempts to make us believe that the Earth is continuing to warm up persist. Will we have to wait for another twenty, twenty-five or thirty years for the global warming advocates to finally admit that there is no unambiguous correlation between the global temperature of the Earth and human-generated CO2 emissions?
  9. The claim that Hurricane Sandy is due to human CO2 emissions is totally unfounded and has been vigorously contested by numerous meteorologists. This regrettable distortion of the facts has been denounced in an open letter, addressed to the General Secretary of the UN and signed by more than 130 world-renowned scientists, including one of the present authors;
  10. Finally the “abnormal” melting of the Arctic Sea ice, that made the headlines of numerous journals during this summer, was also observed during previous decades. Amazingly the record high increase in Antarctic Sea ice that occurred at exactly the same time has been completely ignored by the very same media. Moreover, no mention has been made of the current, particularly rapid, regeneration of the Arctic Sea ice.

These ten statements are facts. We would be ready to accept that they could be wrong, if evidence were presented to scientifically disprove them. In the meantime, and in view of the lack of coherence and unreliability associated with the numerous predictions made by the IPCC, it is time to set the record straight. The public and politicians must be informed about the hypothetical character of the predominant ‘consensus’ on climate change, which has been uncritically disseminated in the media for more than ten years. If it ever existed, this so-called “climate change consensus” has now been totally undermined by the facts.

Despite the opportunity that we were given by the Royal Academy to raise this issue, we were unable to find any French or Belgian newspaper willing to publish this text. Questioning the impact of mankind on climate change is evidently still a taboo over here.

This article reflects solely the opinions of the Authors.


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