Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Early reactions to Anderegg et al in PNAS

I'm the second author on the article "Expert Credibility in Climate Change" just out yesterday at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.abstract. It's been written up several places, and is quickly making the rounds on the web, attracting a lot of comment and critique. I'll try to address questions or challenges here as I get time.


Today I received email from an author in Germany who said he was on the Stasi's list under the G.D.R (a horrific world, one that we who've never been there can scarcely imagine.)

I wanted to address his concern about my online list. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Dr. _______,


I can't imagine what it must have been like to live in the shadow of the
Stasi. I would never want to see anything like that take place today. At
least now Germany is one country again and is a democracy, and I think a
good example of it as well. I admire the mixed-member proportional
system you have. Here in Canada we have winner-takes-all voting, and our
Green Party has never won a seat in Parliament despite polling over 11%
of the national vote. There is a group here promoting a change to such
an MMP system, though we are having trouble getting people to think
about this with so many other concerns on the agenda, especially the
economy.

As for seeing my listings as some kind of "blacklist" - I'm quite
disappointed that people are viewing it in that light; that was never my
intention. I've only listed those whose names were already on an
existing public declaration, available on the web, and I list people who
signed affirmative statements as well (may we never see a day where any
government would persecute members of either group for their opinions!)

I want the media to understand who has really researched climate and who
has not. Conversely, I certainly don't want to silence or exclude anyone
from civil policy debate; no one of us has all the answers on what
policies we should adopt to prepare for the future, and I do want to
hear from others on their views. The policy process must be democratic,
even though that can be painfully slow. In the U.S. there is a
distressingly strong role for corporate spending on political campaigns,
with no limits at all since their Supreme Court's recent "Citizens
United" case. Companies like Exxon can dominate the discourse, leaving
ordinary citizen's voices little heard. Here again I think most European
countries have far more rational approaches to campaign spending laws. I
see corporate spending power and P.R. tricks as a more immediate threat
to the common good than actual (state) censorship of free expression.
Currently our major democracies have fairly good laws against state
censorship, which courts defend actively.

I believe that rational public action to prepare for a future without
fossil fuels is one key to keeping prosperity and peace, and avoiding
the prospect of conflicts over scarce and declining non-renewable energy
sources. Again, Germany is far ahead of either Canada or the U.S. in
making those sensible preparations. The professor just down the hall
from me works on thin-film solar panels; the joint-venture company
developing his technologies opened their factory in Bischoswerda in the
former GDR thanks to strong support from the German government.


[ I see I mis-spelled "Bischofswerda" in the email. Oops. Here's their WP page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bischofswerda ]

9 comments:

1personofdifference said...

I have one question for you MR. Prall.
If you truly did not intend to create a blacklist in your mind, why was there painstaking detail as to coloration as those that stand on this side are of this mindset and those of this coloration are of this mindset.

Your painstaking seperation based on colorization stinks fouly of the yellow J forced on the backs of jews by Nazi Germany. What's next the address and phone numbers that are on the skeptical side? Alarmist are already trying to call us deniars and link us to the aweful lunatics that deny the Nazi Holocaust.

Anonymous said...

Could any intelligent being understand what this blog is all about? Science?

600 French scientists against Allègre. Wow, this is what is called a straw man.

Why not 300.000 scientists against Le Pen. Do they really all agree with your scientific or political, ideological views?

If climate is changing so fast(that everyone will agree in 10 years) and if we must save the planet for hundred other reasons than just climate change, what the hell are you and these thousands of scientists talking about?

This really looks like a new kind of pseudoscientific religion for those who feel more educated and ethical than ordinary men.

Regards
Eddy

Sigurdur said...

I am not sure if you have studied climate or not.
With that in mind, can you please explain the hydrological cycle as it is modeled for us?

Anonymous said...

Well I'm a scientist, not in climate change and I have some comments about this article and I will post them here because PNAS leaves me no place to comment.

(1) It's pretty amusing for an article examining 'expert credibility' to itself be published after the cursory peer review that articles 'contributed' to PNAS receive.

Articles like yours that are marked as 'Contributed', mean that the senior author is a member of the NAS who simply asked two of his/her buddies to write a 'review' and endorse the manuscript for publication. This is obviously a mockery of peer review (contibutor chooses reviewers ; no anonymity for reviewers ; unlikely that negative reviews are submitted to PNAS)

PNAS is unique in publishing articles that receive such a phony peer-review. Choosing to have your manuscript published by the special PNAS route only serves to underscore: (1) how entrenched the network of 'CE' scientists is that this route is available to the senior author and (2) how feeble is the manuscript that it required publication by such a pathetic route.

If this is good science, why didn't you try to get it published after real peer-review?

(2) The keywords for your article are:

"citation analyses, climate denier, expertise, publication analysis, scientific prominence"

Calling people who disagree with you 'deniers' to evoke the idea of holocaust deniers is also pretty nasty.

In my branch of science (biology) we do not repudiate ideas we disagree with by ad hominem attacks but by presenting better arguments and new data. Lysenko demonstrated the fate of science when it devolves into ideology.

(3) I can't understand why Fig 1 and Fig 3 aren't cumulative frequency histograms. Ok, you establish there are fewer CEs - now you want to show the quality of their work is also crappy. But the simple histograms presented actually don't allow the eye to actually see this point.

(4) Give that UEs are only ~3% of the whole group, why does your discussion include the very likely hypothesis that the apparently poor quality of UE science is simply a reflection of greater likelihood that UE's tend to cite UE's and CE's tend to cite CE's. Buried in the methods you obliquely allude to the possibility of 'clique citation' but dismiss it because you have a large sample size and because you focus on 4 most cited papers. What nonsense! Neither of these strategies will abrogate the effects of clique citation OR clique reviewing.

(5) Now that you are personalizing attacks on climate skeptics, you serve to reduce the likelihood that such individuals will seek to publish their data. Does this aid public discourse?

Eduardo Ferreyra said...

Hi, Jim!

I want to thank you for including me among the climate denialists, but I resent being placed at the 430th place. However, I guess that encouraged the Spanish government and the Madrid city authorities to send me an airplane ticket to Madrid for giving a lecture on next October about the incoming global cooling and its relationship with the chaotic movement of the solar system's baricenter.

Thanks again, I am proud of being a denier, not of climate change -it's always changing, nor of the climate science (poor dear, still in diapers) but about the fraudulent claims you people have been making for years.

I don't think you have ever considered your master's advice about balancing the difference in being effective in your claims and being honest.

Anyway, thanks again. I got a free trip and a nice month staying in Spain. :-)

Anonymous said...

Could any intelligent being understand what this blog is all about? Science?

600 French scientists against Allègre. Wow, this is what is called a straw man.

Why not 300.000 scientists against Le Pen. Do they really all agree with your scientific or political, ideological views?

If climate is changing so fast(that everyone will agree in 10 years) and if we must save the planet for hundred other reasons than just climate change, what the hell are you and these thousands of scientists talking about?

This really looks like a new kind of pseudoscientific religion for those who feel more educated and ethical than ordinary men.

Regards
Eddy

Martin Lewitt said...

I assume the reason to focus on the active research and number of publications is the implication that somehow these would imply a more informed opinion. Since the scientific point at issue in the climate debate is whether the net feedback to CO2 forcing is negative or alarmingly positive (or somewhere in between), an informed opinion would seem to depend more upon what publications one has READ rather than written. Given that climate science is a multi-disciplinary field with many specialties that are not focused on model diagnostic studies or model independent estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2, unless they have made a special effort, even climatologists are not likely to have an informed opinion.

Anonymous said...

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

D.D.Eisenhower

Jack said...

I met this author recently, ibrahim, who told me about when he went to Memphis, TN for a Green Jobs conference in 2008. He left the conference for a day to explore the downtown and went to a diner. An old woman asked about his whereabouts and they got to talking. He asked her what she thought about climate change. She said, "it's what democrats are trying to get me to be afraid of like republicans get me to fear terrorists." this young man, ibrahim, got me thinking about the political way in which we frame climate change. maybe it's time to change that. he gave me his card - www.greendeenbook.com