Posts Tagged ‘Climategate’

Michael Mann and Marc Hauser

September 4, 2010

I am not sure if the cases of Marc Hauser(Harvard)  of Hausergate and Michael E Mann (Penn State and the University of Virginia) of Climategate are strictly comparable since the two gates follow different routes in the faking of science.

Climategate was more of a group activity by a small clique with a great deal of group-think, whereas Hausergate was much more solitary.  The peer-review process was perverted to an end by the Climategate gang but this is not apparent with Hauser. Mann’s “hockeystick” was more a “fudging” of some data, “cherry-picking” and massaging statistical method to support a pre-determined result while Hauser seems to have just plain faked the data he wanted to support his personal theories. The pursuit of tenure and publications and fame (and some associated fortune) are probably common to both cases.

Climategate however affected policy and had a clear political agenda. Many involved around Climategate and the IPCC have murky ties to the multi-billion carbon scam. In Hausergate the political agenda, if any, is rather soft.

But what is noteworthy is the increase in the number of such comparisons being made and that such comparisons seem appropriate:

  1. If Michael Mann Had Worked At Harvard Instead Of Uva, Would He Now Be Working At Burger King Or Mcdonald’s?
  2. David Sheffield ’11: Scientific misconduct
  3. Monkey business?
  5. Two Different Approaches to Academic Monkey Business

Et tu IAC? Time for Pachauri to exit.

August 30, 2010

The IAC report is in.

And this is a report by a “friend”.

It is time for Pachauri to leave the reform and the improvement of the IPCC (assuming such a politically charged body can ever be reformed) to somebody else since he has clearly not been up to the task.

The Telgraph: The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should only make predictions when it has solid scientific evidence and avoid straying into policy advocacy, a group of national science academies has warned in a report.

The report said the chairman of the IPCC should be limited to one six year term. Its current head Rajendra Pachauri of India, is in the middle of his second term. It called for an overhaul of the panel’s management, including the creation of an executive committee that would include people from outside the IPCC. Regarding the errors that appeared in the IPCC reports, the review group’s report called for stronger enforcement of the panel’s scientific review procedures to minimise future mistakes.

Professor Mike Hulme, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, is due to deliver a keynote lecture to the Royal Geographical Society Annual conference this week in which he will call for a dramatic changes to the way the IPCC operates. Speaking ahead of his lecture, he said: “The IPCC has not sufficiently adapted to the changing science and politics of climate change, nor to the changing expected and demanded role of science and expertise in society. “The IPCC’s approach of seeking consensus obscures and constricts both scientific and wider social debates about both knowledge-driven and value-driven uncertainties that surround climate change politics.”

Rajendra Pachauri

The BBC: UN climate body ‘needs reforms’, review recommends.

Among the IAC committee’s recommendations was that the UN body appoint an executive director to handle day-to-day operations and speak on behalf of the body. It also said the current limit of two six-year terms for the chair of the organisation is too long. The report also suggests the UN body establish an executive committee which should include individuals from outside the IPCC or even outside the climate science community in order to enhance the UN panel’s credibility and independence.

The use by the IPCC of so-called “grey literature” – that which has not been peer-reviewed or published in scientific journals – has been subjected to particular scrutiny of late, partly because this type of material was behind the glacier error. The committee said that such literature was often relevant and appropriate for inclusion in the IPCC’s assessment reports. But it said authors needed to follow the IPCC’s guidelines more closely and that the guidelines themselves are too vague.

Bishop Hill:Furthermore, by making vague statements that were difficult to refute, authors were able to attach “high confidence” to the statements. The Working Group II Summary for Policy Makers contains many such statements that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective, or not expressed clearly.”

Climategate and Hausergate: Different routes to the faking of science

August 30, 2010

Clearly academia can only reflect surrounding society. Scientists are not saints and political motives, financial greed and fame-seeking will be just as prevalent within academia as in the surroundings. Frauds and fakers will inevitably exist. Nevertheless it is peer review – by colleagues within the organisation and within the peer-review process – which is supposed to maintain the quality of scientific work but perhaps it must now be expanded to protect and maintain the integrity of scientific work as well. Reviewers cannot continue to use the independence of the review process as an excuse to remain cocooned within their comfort zones of anonymity. They do need to stand up and be counted.

In recent months two very different scandals in the scientific world but both relying on fake science have surfaced. In one peer-review has been lax and in the other it has been perverted to a cause.

In the case of Climategate (and the IPCC), the peer-review process was perverted to falsify scientific conclusions and suppress dissent in support of a particular political (and financial) agenda.

In the case of Hausergate predetermined conclusions were supported by falsified data which were then endorsed by the peer-review process to make non-science seem to be science. The financial motive is probably only secondary to the primary motive of seeking acclaim and reputation.

In both cases the normal sequence of the scientific method of

Question > research >hypothesis > experiment /test > analysis > conclusion

has been distorted.

In the case of Climategate a small clique of academics perverted the peer-review process to control and prevent the publication of opposing views. The IPCC (where the authors were often the same academics with a few charlatans, railway engineers, thrill seekers, politicians and financiers thrown in for good measure) not only prevented the consideration of alternate views but went further by including non-peer-reviewed advocacy reports, newspaper articles and the like when they were favourable to their cause. Of course the IPCC is a political institution so perhaps it is asking too much to expect it to be a force to maintain scientific integrity.

“Since the IPCC gives Lead Authors the sole right to determine content and accept or dismiss comments, it is more like a weblog than an academic report.”

See “Fix the IPCC process” by Ross McKitrick at

An alarmist agenda was used to satisfy the greed associated with the Carbon Offset and Trading scams. Some data manipulation is also evident from the Climategate e-mails but the control of peer-review was the main tool used.

In the case of Marc Hauser he simply fabricated data to fit the conclusions he had already come to (and it is irrelevant that his theories or conclusions may or may not be correct). It is stated that he was publishing at the rate of a paper – each one peer-reviewed – every month for 4 years. Obviously not too difficult to do or too time-consuming  if data only had to be fabricated whenever needed. What were the peers and reviewers doing? Had his colleagues and reviewers no suspicions or doubts?

What is not clear is why Hauser felt it was advantageous to fake the science instead of doing the science. Clearly he could not have been as prolific if he had to actually do the science and perhaps account for data which did not support his  theories. It would seem therefore to be connected with the gaining of an academic reputation quickly and perhaps also with the financial benefits flowing from that.

But the message coming through is that peers and peer-review must be transparent and very much more rigorous. They cannot restrict themselves to quality control alone – which itself is not applied uniformly – and not take a position on the integrity of the work. Reviewers are effectively servants of the Journals they serve and the Journals too cannot escape responsibility for what they publish and what they choose not to.

“Hausergate” and the perversion of peer review

August 14, 2010

It would seem that  Marc Hauser fudged or exaggerated or imagined or just plain made up some of the results in at least 3 papers which were published after peer review.

Predictably, Harvard is being very reticent with information but as reported by The Boston Globe the university has assured the world that all necessary corrections will be made. Harvard University confirmed yesterday that it has examined concerns about scientific work by prominent psychology professor Marc Hauser and said it has “taken steps to ensure that the scientific record is corrected’’ in three journal articles for which he was a coauthor.

Also predictably others at Harvard are rationalising and taking a sympathetic view. Greg Laden says: “I know Marc Hauser, and I trust him.”

Hauser himself is taking a year off as penance and to purge himself of his misconduct.

1. A 2002 paper published in the journal Cognition is being retracted by Hauser and two coauthors. The retraction notes that an internal Harvard examination found that the data do not support the findings.

The journal ( or is it magazine) and Elsevier need to now defend their editorial process. Who were the peers and what did they review?

2. Also called into question by the investigation is a 2007 paper in the journal Science. Ginger Pinholster, a spokeswoman for the journal, said that one of the coauthors — Justin Wood, a former graduate student at Harvard who now is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California — wrote a letter to the journal in late June. According to Pinholster, the letter stated that an internal investigation at Harvard found there were missing field notes and that the team at Harvard had recreated its research as a result. Science has yet to make a formal change to the article.

Did the missing notes ever exist? Time for Science to open up.

3. A 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B has already been corrected, because of missing video records and field notes. Earlier this week, Victoria Millen, publishing editor of the British journal, confirmed that the authors contacted the journal last month and informed it of the investigation. The correction notes that incomplete video records and field notes were collected by “the researcher who performed the experiments,’’ a scientist named David Glynn, who has not responded to multiple e-mail and voicemail messages.

Hausergate and Climategate and all its associated “gates” show that the peer review process is sufficiently perverted and corrupted that it needs an overhaul. It is time for the assenting and dissenting peers to stand up and be counted and not hide behind the skirts of anonymous independance.

The Harvard statement said that in cases like Hauser’s, Harvard reports its findings to federal funding agencies, which do their own reviews.

But Harvard cannot pass the buck.

McCarthyism returns to the NAS

June 22, 2010

It seems that the high priests of global warming now believe that science is determined by who is more “authoritative”.

We have had “consensus science” and “settled science” and now we have “authoritative science”.

Perhaps we should just have a poll.

Climate change sceptic scientists ‘less prominent and authoritative’

The research indicates that scientists who blame human activity for global warming have published more relevant and influential papers than those who question man’s impact.

But the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been dismissed as misleading by critics.

Opponents said that the paper divided scientists into artificial groups and did not consider a balanced spectrum of scientists.

They also pointed out that climate sceptics often struggled to get their papers accepted by journals, as they must first be reviewed and approved by climate change “believers”.

Judith Curry, a climate expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology – who was not part of the analysis – called the study “completely unconvincing” while John Christy of University of Alabama claimed he and other climate sceptics included in the survey were simply “being blacklisted” by colleagues.

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