Science and Nature: Under fire for 'censorship'

Another article which points out the blatently obvious (especially if your surnames are McIntyre or McKitrick)

Two of the world’s leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming.

A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

Now read on

This should bring back memories for Steve and Ross when they tried to get their work published by Nature, only to be first requested to edit it down to 800 words, and when that didn’t nullify it, 500 words.

This effect could be called "Procrustean" after the Greek mythical tale of Procrustes, but for the slightly less intellectual (like me) , could be called the climate science version of Monty Python’s "Summarize Proust competition"


  1. Roger Bell
    Posted May 2, 2005 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    Most scientific journals are published by scientific societies e.g. there isn’t any doubt as to who publishes Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society! However Nature is different – it’s published by a company which wants to sell lots of journals and make a profit. That’s probably why the work that resulted in Dolly the cloned sheep was published there. I was told by one of the Nature staff that it wasn’t that great a scientific advance. I’m very surprised at their reaction to Steve and Ross’s criticisms of MBH98.

  2. Louis Hissink
    Posted May 3, 2005 at 4:42 PM | Permalink

    In the geological profession having one’s paper published in Nature was (is ?) considered extremely important and shows one has “arrived” so to speak. That was in the past. Is it the case now? I doubt it – and as they are commercial operations should Nature and Science etc be considered authoritative scientific sources or rather technically erudite good reads for the money.

    I’ve also noticed in climatesceptics that one or two correspondents are noting that climate scepticism seems not to be making much headway. I can guess why – some of the arguments are so technical and esoteric that even your grandmother would switch off.

    To counter the GW propaganda, and that is what it is, one needs to pratice the KISS principle.

    The CO2 obsession reduces to the argument that (in volume units) 1 in 25,000 components of the air is CO2 (the rest N2 and O2 plus minors).

    How does 1 molecule in 25,000 have the physical capability of affecting the other 24,999 in terms of energy transference? Ie 1 CO2 traps some IR energy, its temp increases, which then causes the rest to also rise in temp.

    This is what the problem reduces to – at least for the layperson.

  3. John Davis
    Posted May 4, 2005 at 3:28 AM | Permalink

    Re 2.
    250ppm is 1 in 4000, or am I missing something? I always thought that the IR absorbtion bit was “basic physics” and a reasonably uncontentious part of the AGW theory.
    The climate sceptic problem is mainly that trying to prove a negative will always be difficult. Its all very well and good to debunk the hockey stick per se, but what is really needed is an authoritative “un-hockey stick”, to show unequivocally the current climate changes are not unprecedented, and not the greatest for however many years.
    AGW has been successfully presented as a global threat, and it is always going to be difficult to argue that the correct response to a threat is to “do nothing”.
    (Personally I’m with Bjorn Lomborg on this; changes will happen – though they may not be the ones we expect – and reducing economic growth with a load of carbon taxes will just reduce our future ability to cope.)

  4. Louis Hissink
    Posted May 4, 2005 at 5:35 AM | Permalink

    Error – again

    As usual, leaping from ppm to % displaces a couple decimal points, it should be 2,500 and 2,499.

    However, this only reduces it from the totally idiotic to bizarre.

  5. Louis Hissink
    Posted May 5, 2005 at 6:44 AM | Permalink

    John Davis,

    You missed nothing, I did most of the calculations mentally and the usual translation errors from ppm and percent occurred, You would think that I would have finally learnt how to cope with that, but no, still need to write it down manually on paper. Never trust a geological ore reserve spruiked verbally – look at the published figures.

    I am slightly embarrassed none the less that at my level experience I still manage to post erroneous statements. But then I am a scientist, not a politician.

    Geoscience Canada have just published a paper (I assume John and Steve know about it) confirming the dominance of water as the climate driver.

    As for AGW as a global threat and either we do nothing, or do something proactively, life tends to adapt to changing circmstances, here the environment.

    The Sumatran Tsunami, as an example, demonstrated the inability of theologically governed societies (include Europe in this, in a secular sense) to have the means to adapt.

    Only two nations were able to react quickly – the US and Oz.

    The geological record is one of nothing but change, so you and Bjorn are on the right approach.

    Hence Greenies, Global Warmers and Conservatives are all the same – unwilling to adapt to change.

  6. Stephen Berg
    Posted May 12, 2005 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

    Every day, the media censors out the fact that GW is happening and that it is primarily a result of human activities. This is due to the corporate sponsorship and funding (advertisements) that go to the media from fossil fuel companies. These are the same groups that fund the climate skeptics (such as Pat Michaels, Fred Singer, Sherwood Idso, Richard Lindzen, and Robert Balling, to name a few) to disinform the public.

    That is far more tragic than this accusation (if it were true, which it is not), because ordinary people are not getting the truth.

  7. Michael Ballantine
    Posted May 14, 2005 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    OR, maybe the media is doing something smart for a change. By trying to leave the scientific debate concerning Anthropogenic (man made) Global Warming to the scientists, the debate has a chance to be about the facts. If they keep hashing it out in the court of public opinion, which has NO scientific relavance, it won’t solve a thing.
    Keep in mind that the “media” lives and dies on ratings which is a measure of the public’s interest in the issue. “The earth is warming up unusually fast due to human activities!”, “That report is wrong and we show you how.”, “Big debate on AGW”. Those are news worthy stories and they are/were reported. The details of the actual debate are way over the head of the average person who only gets their news from big media so they quickly loose interest. Big media in then puts on something different that their audience is more interested in seeing.
    Of course all media content is censored. More accurately it is selected for highest interest to their audience. It is impossible for any news outlet to report all the news. Every day there are billions of news worthy stories. Can anybody view a billion news items per day? Every day?
    When the scientific community comes to a real consensus on AGW and can explain it in simple terms it will once again be “news worthy” for big media because it will be relavent to their audience.
    Is there some influence by the advertising sponsors? Yes, there is some but most news editors scream bloody murder when it happens. In general it is more the other way around. The advertisers spend their money on media whose audience they want to reach. You are not likely to see an ad for engine oil additives on a kid’s show aimed at 6 year olds. Wrong audience.

  8. Stephen Berg
    Posted Oct 18, 2005 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Regarding the “debate” on climate change, as far as I’m concerned, this “debate” should not even occur, since there is only one correct side. It is science, after all, and there is only one correct answer in science. In this case, the skeptics are wrong.

  9. Paul
    Posted Oct 18, 2005 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    “In this case, the skeptics are wrong.” And you have proof? Where would we find the proof? Do you doubt that Steve has found serious issues and errors with the hockey stick that is being used? After reading most of the posts on this blog, do you doubt that there are serious issues and questions regarding the methods and analysis that haven’t been answered? Or, do you think that AWG is a done deal and we should turn it around before the “Day After Tomorrow” happens to us? Do you know what would happen if the earth warms? You’re sure it’s a bad thing, too?

    You speak as if you’re so sure of yourself…the “facts” as you see them.

    Yes…this is science, but a science in its infancy and one that has already been so politicized that it will be very difficult to extract reality from it, if it is every found.

    In this case, the skeptics are…

    …we’ll find out if they’re wrong sometime down the road.

  10. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 18, 2005 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    Re: #8, Stephen, thank you for posting. The problem is that the science is not settled. In a recent study done by German researchers, 25%!!! of the climate scientists polled said they did not think that the scientific case for AGW was proven. That’s a lot of dissenters against the assumed “consensus”

    Yes, in science there is only one answer. However, your unsupported claim that “the skeptics are wrong” merely proves that you have not done your homework. If you had, you would realize that we still have a long, long way to go before we can say that scientists understand the climate sufficiently to make definitive statements such as yours. Science, at this point in history, is far from giving the “one answer” that you think is already evident.

    While your attitude and conclusion are not surprising given the amount of hyperbole, media, and misinformation that surrounds the subject of climate … they are also not science. Fortunately, this confusion of yours is not irremediable. You could start by reading all of Steve’s interesting posts on this site, along with all of the even more interesting responses.

    When you have done that, and not before, please come back and post again. Bear in mind, however, that this is a scientific site, populated by scientists. As such, a statement like “the sceptics are wrong”, with no backup, no citation, and no supporting argument, will get very little respect or notice.

    As I said, the science is not settled. You may in fact be right, and if you have the facts and studies to show that you are right, I’ll be the first to admit it. Merely saying something that boils down to “I’m right because I’m right”, however, will never get a lot of traction on this site. All it does is lower the odds that anyone will take you seriously.

    I am not trying to discourage you from posting, quite the contrary. I am encouraging you to post — but to only post facts, claims, ideas, theories, inferences, and studies that are scientifically based and scientifically defensible. In addition, you should post citations for your claims.

    Your claim that “this ‘debate’ should not occur”, for example, misses the point entirely — the reason the debate is occurring, and continues unabated, is because the science is not settled. If it were, there would be no debate.


  11. per
    Posted Jan 16, 2006 at 3:10 AM | Permalink

    Dear Stephen

    GW is happening and that it is primarily a result of human activities.

    hmmm. The IPCC TAR phrased it differently:

    most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

    So while you communicate this as a certainty, the IPCC says only that it is “likely”.

    It is science, after all, and there is only one correct answer in science. In this case, the skeptics are wrong.

    Just out of interest, in what exactly are the skeptics wrong ? Is it wrong to doubt holy GW ? Under any circumstances ?

    just curious.

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