What to watch for when science becomes politicized (Synopsis)

“When a scientist says something, his colleagues must ask themselves only whether it is true. When a politician says something, his colleagues must first of all ask, ‘Why does he say it?'” -Leo Szilard

There are claims flying around all the time that science is corrupt, politicized, and that the robust scientific conclusions reached about a number of issues are unreliable. Whether it’s about vaccines, HIV/AIDS, fluoride, climate change or the genetics of sexuality (or a host of other issues), you will often see the rare scientist who dissents from the mainstream highlighted along with the standard view.

A poster put up by the Fluoride Action Network, one of the most notoriously anti-science activist groups out there. Image credit: flickr user William Murphy.

A poster put up by the Fluoride Action Network, one of the most notoriously anti-science activist groups out there. Image credit: flickr user William Murphy.

First off, the presentation of two opposing viewpoints doesn’t validate the opposition viewpoint at all; you can always find a contrarian. But with the vastly different global political landscape of 2017 rapidly approaching, it’s important to vigilantly guard against what will come next: catastrophic policies based on the acceptance of the nonsense alternative to the science.

A brain science session at the 2014 AAAS meeting. Image credit: Nicky Penttila of the Dana Foundation.

A brain science session at the 2014 AAAS meeting. Image credit: Nicky Penttila of the Dana Foundation.

Scientific truths do not change with the political winds, and it’s our job as scientists, science communicators and a scientifically literate society to fight against it with everything we’ve got!

43 Comments

  1. “When a scientist says something, his colleagues must ask themselves only whether it is true. When a politician says something, his colleagues must first of all ask, ‘Why does he say it?’” -Leo Szilard
    There are claims flying around all the time that science is corrupt, politicized, and that the robust scientific conclusions reached about a number of issues are unreliable. Whether it’s about vaccines, HIV/AIDS, fluoride, climate change or the genetics of sexuality (or a host of other issues), you will often see the rare scientist who dissents from the mainstream highlighted along with the standard view.
    A poster put up by the Fluoride Action Network, one of the most notoriously anti-science activist groups out there. Image credit: flickr user William Murphy.
    First off, the presentation of two opposing viewpoints doesn’t validate the opposition viewpoint at all; you can always find a contrarian. But with the vastly different global political landscape of 2017 rapidly approaching, it’s important to vigilantly guard against what will come next: catastrophic policies based on the acceptance of the nonsense alternative to the science.
    A brain science session at the 2014 AAAS meeting. Image credit: Nicky Penttila of the Dana Foundation.
    Scientific truths do not change with the political winds, and it’s our job as scientists, science communicators and a scientifically literate society to fight against it with everything we’ve got!

    Related

  2. Julian Frost

    All the current crying about “politicised science” is from those who insist on making it political rather than scientific, which is weasel wording 101: blame others of what you are doing. It’s made political because the problem people have who are against AGW being accepted aren’t against the science, but against the actions we have to take, which are going to be decided by politicians.
    So they make hell for any politician who dares do anything to ameliorate (despite “changing what you’re doing” being what they demand we do: adapt to the changing climate – by not messing about with it) the problem in the arena where “feelings” count for more than facts: politics.
    After all, your vote is made on your feelings if you want to do it that way, and nobody is allowed to gainsay your choice. Facts have no meaning to voting, especially when the vote is anonymous.

  3. Two of the things you mentioned (AIDS and vaccines) have a place in my heart.
    As an autistic self advocate and blogger, the persistence of the lie about vaccines causing autism is both infuriating and frustrating. Andrew Wakefield, the struck off gastroenterologist who kicked things off has been exposed as having taken money from lawyers to investigate the link to see if lawsuits could be brought. In addition, even though he loaded the deck as hard as he could, the results didn’t fit the claim, so he cooked the subject’s data. Huge epidemiological studies have failed to find a link, yet there are still those who are convinced that vaccines cause autism.
    I’m a South African. Thabo Mbeki, our President from 1999-2008, when he was forced to resign, had views on AIDS that could politely be called eccentric, and accurately called absurd. His beliefs meant that ARV’s were denied to patients. One estimate puts the death toll from his actions at 365,000. It’s a shocking example of how ignoring the science for a belief in conspiracies leads to disaster.

  4. On BBC radio recently, someone supported Wakefield by the fact that he was touring in the USA and being listened to.
    Apparently this is why anti-vaccination is a valid concern…

  5. Wow,
    I get that you think you know what the ‘facts’ are.
    I see that you then take the second step: Since other people do not agree with your facts, their positions, or ‘feelings’ are wrong or stupid, and should be considered ‘irrelevant’ in light of what you know.
    Then take the third step: You attack other people’s right to vote for what they believe to be true or what is best for their interests.
    .
    Congratulations Wow, you have outed yourself as a technocrat.
    I am very thankful I do not live in a country with a government that thinks like you do. Generations of men in my family have gone to war, fought with, and killed people such as yourself who felt their ‘facts’ were so important that they overrode everyone else’s right to decide for themselves what they believed in or who they should vote for.
    .
    The moment science becomes a means to pursue power, it IS politics and should be treated accordingly.

  6. Julian Seymour Schwinger (February 12, 1918 – July 16, 1994) was a Nobel Prize winning American theoretical physicist. He is best known for his work on the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), in particular for developing a relativistically invariant perturbation theory, and for renormalizing QED to one loop order. Schwinger was a professor in the physics department at UCLA.
    After 1989 Schwinger took a keen interest in the non-mainstream research of cold fusion. He wrote eight theory papers about it. He resigned from the American Physical Society after their refusal to publish his papers.[5] He felt that cold fusion research was being suppressed and academic freedom violated. He wrote: “The pressure for conformity is enormous. I have experienced it in editors’ rejection of submitted papers, based on venomous criticism of anonymous referees. The replacement of impartial reviewing by censorship will be the death of science.”
    A recent reexamination of Schwinger’s ideas shows based on 27 years of experimentation shows that he was right on the mark in terms of the basic causation of cold fusion.
    For example, in a reexamination of Schwinger’s cold fusion theory by A. Meulenberg in the video presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcTSUJUCRHE
    and associated slides athttp://hdl.handle.net/10355/36818
    J. Schwinger states: Nuclear Energy in an Atomic Lattice, in The First Annual Conference on Cold Fusion. 1990.
    “This representation of the overall probability, per unit time, as the product of two independent factors, may be true enough under the circumstances of hot fusion. But in very low energy cold fusion one deals essentially with a single state, or wave function, all parts of which are coherent. It is not possible to totally isolate the effect of the electric forces from that of the nuclear forces.”
    Consistent with J. Schwinger statement above, it is now becoming clear that coherence is amplifying the weak force to an elevated level where nuclear matter is being decayed into mesons, fission and fusion then occurs through the action of muons – a meson decay product.
    Next J. Schwinger states
    Problem: How to avoid creating neutrons in D-D fusion Proposed Solution:
    1. Assume interaction Hamiltonian includes short range nuclear potential
    2. Phonon action stimulates phonon emission
    3. Use up some nuclear energy before fusion occurs
    This happens as nuclear binding energy is shared in the act of nucleon decay when the atom and catalytic quasiparticle are joined in a coherent entanglement before the secondary muon fusion or fission can occur.
    J. Schwinger next states on the positive feedback loop in LENR as follows:
    Correlated phonon-induced motion of a D sub-lattice,
    • Stimulated emission, (but no energy levels)
    • Large D displacement => non-linearities
    • Emission-enhanced displacement => more emission
    The transfer of nuclear energy via entanglement strengthens the weak force based catalytic action of the quasiparticle which then produces enhancement of its catalytic action as it also stabilizes the radioactive nuclear byproduct of the LENR reaction.

  7. “Wow,
    I get that you think you know what the ‘facts’ are.”
    I get that you don’t CARE what the facts are, and that you don’t care what I do or do not know, all you want to do is insinuate that I don’t know what the facts are, careless of what they are at all.
    “Since other people do not agree with your facts, ”
    Again, you don’t care whether the facts are true or not, all you care about is insisting that I must be doing the following:
    “their positions, or ‘feelings’ are wrong or stupid, and should be considered ‘irrelevant’ in light of what you know.”
    What, precisely is wrong for considering someone who actually DOES have the facts wrong and refuse to accept the reality and the facts that arise from it stupid?
    If that isn’t wrong, in that specific case, WHETHER OR NOT I’M RIGHT, you have to decide whether my facts are actually from reality, and to do that you have to assert what you think those facts ARE.
    But that’s too much work for you,and you don’t care about facts or reality, therefore you don’t even attempt to cite what you think a fact I accept is, never mind actually go to show that it is incorrect.
    IOW you use politics to argue science.
    And you have complained before on this thread about how bad it is that we have “politicised science”.
    “Congratulations Wow, you have outed yourself as a technocrat.”
    Why is that wrong? Even if we concede the claim (unsupported as it is), why is that wrong?
    “I am very thankful I do not live in a country with a government that thinks like you do. ”
    So you prefer a government run by those ignorant of technology??? Why? And how does that make a better country???
    Yet again, all you have are “feelies”.
    “Generations of men in my family have gone to war, fought with, and killed people such as yourself who felt their ‘facts’ were so important that they overrode everyone else’s right to decide for themselves what they believed in or who they should vote for.”
    You don’t get to believe in reality, moron. And what does the fact of someone voting for someone make facts changeable or wrong???
    You haven’t even got a coherent story of what “Generations in your family” did!
    Thanks for proving my point, dumbass.

  8. “Then take the third step: You attack other people’s right to vote for what they believe to be true or what is best for their interests.”
    You don’t get a vote on facts, idiot.

  9. Ethan,
    You are a coward. In any scientific argument there are two sides, when you don’t even know what the other sides arguments are (regardless if you agree with them or their conclusions) you are not informed. After your brief dismissal of those who disagree with AGW, you have made it clear you can’t tell your scientific elbow from your political ass. You have your own confirmation bias in spades, and pretend not to know it.
    .
    I seriously doubt you even know the reasons why many do not agree with anthropogenic global warming outside of a few flimsy strawman caricatures, which I have all heard. Like most academic elites, you ASSUME your position is correct with its conclusion and don’t actually even know the arguments of your opponent, or that they actually do have evidence in many cases.
    .
    Want to prove me wrong? Prove you know their arguments, then be able to show why they are wrong, like any half assed science teacher worth their diploma would do.
    If you were an actual scientist,
    You would state your argument, and then acknowledge your opponents argument. Then you would argue the merits of your conclusions and evidence over your opponents conclusions and evidence. Rolling your eyes and dismissing your opponent as outright ‘political’ isn’t science, that’s just hubris. Keep digging.

  10. Wow,
    You are an angry hack, probably young enough to be my grandson. Now that I know what you are, I don’t see the point in continuing this much further. You pretty much ended your argument with
    “You don’t get a vote on facts, idiot.” first, you aren’t the source of all facts, second, you do get to vote on what you believe, child. If that truly bothers you, go to china.

  11. “You are a coward. In any scientific argument there are two sides,”
    Such as “One side is wrong, the other side is right”?
    Why should the fact there are two sides described there somehow indicate that the side that is wrong is actually right???
    ur brain no working?
    ” when you don’t even know what the other sides arguments are”
    ROFLMAO! See your post earlier and my pointing out that you don’t CARE what my facts are, you insist that somehow I’m wrong for having them and thinking that they’re right!
    Care to find out what my facts are first???
    “I seriously doubt you even know the reasons why many do not agree with anthropogenic global warming outside of a few flimsy strawman caricatures, which I have all heard”
    And you don;t know that this is the case, nor do you assert what flimsy caricatures you have (and what you will do if it is shown to you that these caricatures ARE HELD as valid by some), and what “non flimsy caricatures” you hold.
    Not easy to not know your arguments when you cannot bring yourself to say what they are in public!
    “Want to prove me wrong? Prove you know their arguments”
    What ARE their arguments? Lets see if they’re actually solid and based in reality. Lets see if these arguments actually logically hold.
    Demand not that we do both sides of the argument so that you can insist that WE got it wrong when we prove the argument false.
    “You would state your argument, and then acknowledge your opponents argument.”
    You have refused to do this time and time again, not just with AGW, but with Dark Matter recently too.
    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    “Wow,
    You are an angry hack, ”
    Says CFT whose previous post was full of anger to Ethan. No content, mind, but plenty of anger.
    Irony. See FT.
    ““You don’t get a vote on facts, idiot.” first, you aren’t the source of all facts”
    First, that doesn’t mean you get to vote on facts, idiot.
    “econd, you do get to vote on what you believe,”
    Second, that doesn’t mean you get to vote on facts.
    PS how do you know my age? Or is this a “fact” you haven’t bothered to find out before making claims of it?

  12. Funny how certain “scientists” have all their facts straight, and are the sole holders of the “truth” (which reminds me of some other sort of people -of different profession- that until recently had the exclusive rights to the “one and only truth”.) I am an engineer by training and I earn my living as research scientist/professor in computer science for the past 10 years or so, so I know how science/engineering works.
    And I have to say that even within mathematics, the branch(?) of science that’s supposed to be totally black and white (either a theorem is proven, or it’s not), “truth” is particularly hard to decide. Of all the theorems discovered in the last 1000 years or so, how many are “truly true”??? most published work is reviewed by 2-3 people, who most often don’t bother to go through the details of a proof, and as soon as the paper is published, it almost becomes “truth”…
    and yet, there are still many zealots -or even worse, riders of the fashion wave that maximizes their chances for getting funded- that claim they have all the “facts”. Well, even in the early nineties most atmospheric science people (at least in the US) firmly believed that the earth was entering a “cooling era”. Didn’t they have their “facts” straight back then? didn’t they perform science back then? what compelling reason is there now to make us believe that this time, their conclusions, which are the complete opposite of what they firmly asserted 20-30 years ago, are the “correct ones”?
    The most depressing thing for me, is to see many people who are usually paid (with tax-payers money) to question everything all the time, instead perform like the “holy inquisitors” of the catholic church during the middle ages, or like today’s IS members ready to blow up their opponents who “don’t get them”… it is exactly because of such zealots that we can say that today most science is more political than ever before, and therefore, less meaningful than ever before.

  13. “most published work is reviewed by 2-3 people, who most often don’t bother to go through the details of a proof, and as soon as the paper is published, ”
    If your knowledge of science is as shitty as your knowledge of mathematics and its review process, there is no reason to take you seriously. (Of course, your final paragraph, with the foolish reference to money, itself shows you’re not sincere.)

  14. Once again cft, your ‘argument” against a scientific position is not based on anything resembling reasoned discussion. Your statement ‘there are two sides” may be technically true, but it implies the foolishness that continues “and so both deserve equal weight”.
    When the abundance of research is in favor of A and not B, that doesn’t mean investigations stop, but it does lessen the amount of credence B deserves.
    Your entire schtick is that you’re butt-hurt because the the results you believe should be true are not the ones science points to as correct. As I’ve said before, you are trying the same level of argumentation as the anti-vaccination folks: scream, stamp your foot, and cry because your comments aren’t taken seriously.

  15. Dean,
    please put it in your ‘smug’ pipe and smoke it. I’m pretty sick of you speaking about a position I don’t even hold about a subject I have not discussed with you. NO, you don’t get to tell me what my opinion on vaccination is, because you have never heard it.
    It’s pretty damn hard to tell what an abundance of research really says about anything if you have never heard of it. I will give you a shot. Provide me with a single weakness of the ‘science’ behind the AGW argument. When you know your position well, you also know the strengths AND weakness of your position. If you don’t, you really don’t know as much as you think.
    If you assume you know the reason why someone disagrees with you, like Wow for instance, or what they disagree with you about, like yourself for instance, it is very easy to dismiss your opponent even though you might be utterly wrong about the merit of their argument, or in your case, what their argument actually is. You actually have to listen to other peoples positions and evidence and not make stuff up, I know I know, it’s strange, but it’s true. People who don’t learn how to listen to others frequently lose wars, friendships, relationships, arguments, and presidential elections.
    .
    If you want everyone to agree with you, and feel threatened by other’s views, maybe you should leave science debate alone and go find a safe-space with some coloring books and play-dough to keep you happy.

  16. Once again cft, your ‘argument” against a scientific position is not based on anything resembling reasoned discussion. Your statement ‘there are two sides” may be technically true, but it implies the foolishness that continues “and so both deserve equal weight”.
    Its not technically true. It may even qualify as “not even wrong,” as it’s just a variation on the creationist false dichotomy. There are a large – possibly infinite – number of hypotheses that can explain any given set of measurements. Whether we explore one, two, three, or many, the burden of proof is always on the proponents to give the rest of us a reason why their idea is worth our time, money, and consideration. CFT’s idea that one can’t be an informed scientist unless one knows ‘the other side’ isn’t just wrong, its impossible, as there are a practically infinite number of “sides”. Certainly a good scientist should read the important papers in his/her field, and those will likely include theories or hypotheses they don’t necessarily accept. But no, nobody has to understand Axil’s ideas about cold fusion to be a good particle physicist, and no climate scientist has to understand every change-denier’s ideas to be a good climate scientist. Because that would be impossible, and that sort of demand is really just a form of the Courtier’s Reply fallacy. To be a good scientist, you should have a good handle of the credible concepts and ideas in your field. But anytime anyone claims you are a coward and don’t know your scientific elbow from your ass (both ad homs thrown by CFT) because you haven’t read Bob Blowhard’s Published Objection to Iceberg Melting, and thus you don’t have a grasp of “both sides” of the climate debate, IMO you can safely ignore them. Because “both sides” gives away the fact that they don’t understand science, and even if they did, reading Bob Blowhard’s paper is not what qualifies you as an expert in a scientific field.

  17. Eric Habegger

    “Its not technically true. It may even qualify as “not even wrong,” as it’s just a variation on the creationist false dichotomy.”
    Granted – I was following the “point” of cft’s “argument”.

  18. I thought this was a very well written blog post, Ethan. I have similar concerns as you. A lot of knowledge that used to be passed by authority figures from generation to generation has very recently been bypassed by the hive mind of the internet, and global instant communication. It has been very disruptive in a way that is both surprising and counterintuitive. A lot of it has to do with the anonymity of authors in messaging. In real life we can identify unreliable memes in culture just by the image and reputation of the speaker. Now that isn’t possible and the “feelings” of the individual reading it bypasses the logical responses because those individuals do not realize they are getting incomplete, or false information. Let’s face it, many people just do not have the critical thinking ability to weigh the probability of something being true or false in the presence of many diverging opinions coming at them AND not having the additional information on the character of the person saying those things that we used to have.
    I think the public’s adaption to all this instant information (you can’t call it knowledge) is lagging. In this new age it seems to be incumbent that children are all taught in school about the “absence” of knowledge about the sources of information and to learn how to modulate their responses. A good first start would be to not necessarily trust someone who hasn’t identified themselves and is using a pseudonym. It doesn’t mean they can’t be trusted but the probability of not being able to trust them goes way up.

  19. And I have to say that even within mathematics, the branch(?) of science that’s supposed to be totally black and white (either a theorem is proven, or it’s not), “truth” is particularly hard to decide. Of all the theorems discovered in the last 1000 years or so, how many are “truly true”??? most published work is reviewed by 2-3 people, who most often don’t bother to go through the details of a proof, and as soon as the paper is published, it almost becomes “truth”…
    Dear G-d. Andrew Wiles on line 1.

  20. ^ Uh-oh, the switchboard is lighting up. Mochizuki’s secretary called to say that you’re going to have to call him, and Pasteur’s ghost left a text message saying that no, he did not in fact “recant ‘germ theory’” on his deathbed.

  21. @dean #12,
    getting published isn’t as rigorous as you might wish to believe. It has been shown that this is so.
    It’s called the Sokal Affair, and considering your conviction I would have thought you would have bothered to research before you chimed in.
    .http://www.nature.com/news/publishers-withdraw-more-than-120-gibberish-papers-1.14763
    .
    If you ever decide to research climategate, you would discover that it has also been shown that some scientists openly try to suppress or even block certain papers in peer review because the work challenges their own position, or their ’cause’.
    Ethan doesn’t like this fact because it challenges his personal belief that he and his fellow peers and colleagues would never do such a thing. I know this because he has said so himself. Read a police report sometime. The world is chock full of people who are surprised by people ‘who would never do such a thing’.

  22. CFT,
    The Sokal Affair was when a physicist published a hoax paper in the journal Social Text, a postmodern cultural studies journal. No science journals were involved in the Sokal Affair.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
    Although the story in the link of your post does mention the Sokal Affair, the story is not actually about the Sokal Affair. That story is about an incident in which several hoax papers were published in conference proceedings, none of which had anything to do with Alan Sokal. Conference proceedings are not generally considered to be as rigorous or prestigious as peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.

  23. cft, your comment about “climate gate” means you are either lying or ignorant. This
    “you would discover that it has also been shown that some scientists openly try to suppress or even block certain papers in peer review because the work challenges their own position,”
    is bogus. I’m not sure what your comment about the police report means, since nothing illegal was found to have been done by the scientists.
    You also, apparently, don’t understand the Sokal incident. Alan Sokal, from NYU, a physicist, submitted a hoax paper to a journal on post modern cultural studies – NOT a science journal as you apparently believe. It was attempt to see how easily that type of journal and its review process could be fooled. The fact that it was published has nothing to do with scientific, mathematical, or statistical (which I’m involved in) research and publication.
    It’s becoming abundantly clear you don’t have a single clue about anything you’re currently upset about: you don’t understand the science, you don’t understand peer review, all you know (or think you know) is that the items being discussed don’t meet your kooky idea for what science should look like.
    I would not be amazed to find out you dismiss evolution, relativity, and most of modern medical science. Kooks like you seem to doubt everything.

  24. Julian Frost

    ketchup,
    The link I provided reports over 120 papers were retracted. It was a demonstration that the rigorous peer review process is not as rigorous as scientists would like to believe if computer generated bullshit peppered with lots of buzzwords can pass for publication.
    The point I was making is that it DOES happen. I really could care less at this point what Ethan thinks goes on in scientific academia, Since I actually know about evidence of the things that DO go on. Ethan wanted to use climatology to make his point about how science is above politics, So I also will also discuss climatology to show how he couldn’t be more wrong.
    .
    Climatology is supposed to be a pretty hard science, as it involves tremendous amounts of overlap between physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, biology, meteorology, computer science, geology, and organizations like NASA, NOAA, etc., and huge amounts of financial resources to keep things humming along. Some years ago it was shown by hacked emails (much like what happened to Hillary Clinton) that Dr. Michael Mann and fellow climatologists were conspiring to hide and obscure inconvenient data and emails that basically showed that both the analysis, and methodology behind the famous ‘hockey stick’ climate chart (made famous in Al Gore’s movie) were fraudulent. This all started when a fellow climatologist petitioned Dr. Mann to provide him with a way to make a very apparent decline in a historical temperature reconstruction ‘go away’, as he was trying to reproduce Mr. Mann’s climate analysis, and found it was not possible with the given data and published methodology. It basically all snowballed from there when it turned out the original data had been destroyed, that Mann had hid this, and that Mann had used tree ring proxy data that was to put it mildly, not even remotely scientific or statistically accurate. Mann was also trying to get colleagues to destroy emails in order to hide his correspondence with others of how to manipulate climatic data (like eliminating the MWP from the temperature record) to show pretty much whatever he wanted, which was tremendous warming, not what the data indicated. The discussions that were culled from the emails included correspondence of Mann and other climatologists conspiring to prevent peer review of papers they thought could hurt either their positions, or their higher ’cause’. Prestige, fraud, incompetence, collusion, millions in grant money, Politics, higher ’causes’, these all exist even in the ivory tower enclaves of East Anglia University, Pen State, and University of Virginia.
    .

  25. Some years ago it was shown by hacked emails (much like what happened to Hillary Clinton) that Dr. Michael Mann and fellow climatologists were conspiring to hide and obscure inconvenient data and emails that basically showed that both the analysis, and methodology behind the famous ‘hockey stick’ climate chart (made famous in Al Gore’s movie) were fraudulent.
    “Climategate” involved hacking emails, then quoting them out of context in a malicious and mendacious attempt to show that AGW wasn’t occurring. That you repeat that pack of lies as fact tells me all I need to know.

  26. “Some years ago it was shown by hacked emails (much like what happened to Hillary Clinton) that Dr. Michael Mann and fellow climatologists were conspiring to hide and obscure inconvenient data and emails that basically showed that both the analysis, and methodology behind the famous ‘hockey stick’ climate chart (made famous in Al Gore’s movie) were fraudulent.”
    No such thing. The investigations supported the work of Mann and his colleagues. The hockey stick graph has been supported in several studies since Mann’s publication.
    You’ve written many things that are false: your comments about the Sokal incident and this are your most blatantly false posts to date.

  27. By the way, in the climate case the correct term isn’t ‘hacked’, it is “stolen’. The emails were stolen.

  28. dean,
    Denial isn’t in Egypt, and you apparently aren’t in IT. The correct term in this particular case is ‘hacked’, not stolen, as the original records were entirely intact and unaltered. Computer records may be hacked from both external and/or internal agents. For the records to have been stolen, they would have to have been somehow physically ‘taken’ or ‘removed’, such as an email server and/or hard drive (which contained particular emails in question )being removed from the premises.
    The investigation you mention is quite infamous actually, and basically was conducted as a face saving farce by the university. Dr. Mann and fellow researchers in question in the emails were asked if they had done anything wrong. They said they had done nothing wrong, they were very mildly scolded for being sloppy with their emails and poor choice of language, and the investigation was closed as quickly as possible to avoid further scrutiny that might cause East Anglia University further embarrassment or possible loss of funding. Asking someone if they did anything wrong, hearing them deny it, then shrugging your shoulders is not an investigation.
    Strangely enough, the concern for closure was so obviously the primary intent, the fact that the hacking must have occurred from the inside of the university climate department itself was largely lost in the noise. Strange that the university had no actual interest in finding who performed the hack and how it was done.
    How the AGW climate community reacted to the content of the hacked emails was just as revealing as the emails themselves. It demonstrated that the belief in their ’cause’ was far more important than their objectivity or methodology, they put their advocacy and politics before scientific integrity.

  29. Denial isn’t in Egypt, and you apparently aren’t in IT.
    That’s OK, as you yourself clearly have no experience with STEM publishing.

  30. The correct term in this particular case is ‘hacked’, not stolen, as the original records were entirely intact and unaltered.
    How absurd. The quality of the information has little to do with the question of whether it was theft or not. Its theft when its yours and its taken without your permission. Hacking might be considered a way of committing theft, but its still theft.
    CFT, are you really saying that when someone gains your bank account numbers, SSN and passwords for all your accounts “entirely intact and unaltered,” they have not stolen your personal information? I would think the ‘intact and unaltered’ description makes the act a worse, more dangerous theft, not a non-theft.

  31. No, cft, try to follow this: the emails were taken by someone by whom they did not belong, and to whom they were not given. Those people stole them. The “hacking” you so dearly cling to might have been the tool used to commit the crime, but the crime was theft.
    Your description of the investigation is, one can only assume, the result of some fever-sweat of yours, as it has zero relationship to fact.

  32. The link I provided reports over 120 papers were retracted. It was a demonstration that the rigorous peer review process is not as rigorous as scientists would like to believe if computer generated bullshit peppered with lots of buzzwords can pass for publication.
    Read the subtitle. It’s OK if you have to move your lips to internalize it.

  33. ^ Oh, and CFT?* Just as a competence check, please find the TOC of the proceedings for the “TIC” pseudoarticle mentioned in the Nature item that you’re trotting out. This should take no more than 10 minutes.
    * This pseudonym regularly cracks me up, even though I take it to be coincidental.

  34. dean,
    A side note:
    I don’t go out of my way to attack you with ad hominem, you do. Tone it down, it isn’t an argument, it’s just insults, and not very good ones. I’m also quite familiar with the sophistry of political propaganda, such as Saul Alinsky’s rules for radicals #5. “* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. ” Please stop doing this. Techniques like this might work for smug leftist political hacks trying to agitate crowds in Chicago, but it also backfires spectacularly when overused, as witnessed recently in elections in the United States. I subtract your frequent ridicule from every comment you make to me and evaluate whatever is left, which is usually not much.
    .
    Much like with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, when someone leaks or hacks your emails or private conversations, you can rail against the public disclosure all you like, the horse is already out of the barn. What was disclosed is now also up for scrutiny especially if a law was broken or some significant impropriety or ethical lapse took place.
    .
    They still don’t actually know who actually hacked or leaked the emails, it could have been one of the researchers themselves, or someone in their department IT department who got fed up with what was going on. Maybe they should have actually let competent forensics experts in to examine the situation, the university made it quite clear they did not want that to happen. If the university didn’t want the crime investigated enough to actually find out who did it, there probably was something else they didn’t want made public in the course of the investigation. I don’t have to have a ‘fever sweat’ to see that looks highly suspicious under any circumstance.
    .
    At the time of leaked emails, Dr. Mann was already in some hot water for refusing to honor FOIA requests. Since he is funded from the government , and his research is technically owned by the university which follows the FOIA guidelines, Mann was not in a position where he could actually refuse the request legally. In the emails he and his colleagues basically argue they didn’t believe they should have to submit to FOIA, discuss methods for circumventing the law, and voice their views that anyone that disagrees with them has no right to look over his research since they would disagree with it.

  35. Narad,
    My initials are not a pseudonym, they don’t stand for Ads/CFT or Conformal Field Theories. You also aren’t trying to be funny in least, just demeaning and smug.
    .
    Because you have experience in STEM publishing means what exactly in the context this dialogue? Bragging rights? Apparently not enough to correct my use of network security terminology, or know why certain words are used and not others.
    .
    @dean,
    Use of words like ‘theft’ implies a known motive, usually for personal gain or advantage. If you don’t know who accessed/hacked the data, attributing motive can be problematic. When your boss looks over your internet history at work, or into your emails, which they can do if they are company emails and computers, that is not hacking or theft, that is just administrative access. You also do not get to claim privacy with emails conducting company/ official business, especially in the government. In the case of whistle blowers, different rules often apply because of the nature of the disclosure which serves some greater purpose/priority like alerting authorities or the public to fraud or ethical misconduct, terrorism, etc.

  36. “I don’t go out of my way to attack you with ad hominem, you do”
    They aren’t ad-hominems if they are true – which the comments about you are.
    Your comments about the theft of the emails not being theft are, basically, asinine.
    It is also telling that you reference Alinsky’s stuff (which, I am willing to bet, you are the only one here to have read it: I haven’t.) since the only people I’ve seen who reference it are folks who are saying things so stupid that they have no logical defense for it, and so they try to avoid being called on it by asserting the people opposing them are following some fifth-rate clown’s advice.
    You are also misrepresenting the Mann FOIA situation. The request was not just for his research, but everything he had ever done. UVA and Mann fought back to withhold emails and other documents protected under Virginia’s FOIA exemptions. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed that the issues of protection Mann and UVA requested were valid.
    And, as is worth noting, none of the items in the stolen emails, or the work of Mann’s that was studied, was ever found to be anything other than what was claimed, despite your repeated assertions to the contrary.
    Whether you don’t understand this, or just choose to believe your own conspiracies for some unknown (to us) reason, I can’t say. It is possible to say that your comments are baseless crap.

  37. My initials are not a pseudonym, they don’t stand for Ads/CFT or Conformal Field Theories. You also aren’t trying to be funny in least, just demeaning and smug.
    Couldn’t find the TOC, eh?
    Because you have experience in STEM publishing means what exactly in the context this dialogue? Bragging rights? Apparently not enough to correct my use of network security terminology, or know why certain words are used and not others.
    It means neither more nor less than that you’re willing to make extraordinarily stupid assertions about the subject with no knowledge of it whatever, which seems to be your entire shtick.

  38. It is also telling that you reference Alinsky’s stuff (which, I am willing to bet, you are the only one here to have read it: I haven’t.)
    I have a 30-year-old paperback copy lying around that I never bothered finishing back when I bought it. He doesn’t have the most engaging prose style, and have pretty lenient standards – I read all of this, for example (G—le Books has the attribution wrong, BTW).

  39. ^ “and I have”

  40. ^^ Oh, dear, I failed to attend properly to this gem from Mr. Proper Terminology:
    My initials are not a pseudonym
    Let that sink in for a moment.

  41. ^^^ Right:
    Apparently not enough to correct my use of network security terminology, or know why certain words are used and not others.
    Listen, Peaches, I was sitting at a Sun workstation when the Morris worm hit. What’s the “network security terminology” for separating paragraphs with periods?
    I know what the common parlance is for it. Don’t strain your imaginary Must Call Someone Else certification trying to figure it out.

  42. Lamar Smith, the head of the House Science and Technology Committee, is a member of a religious sect that is at odds with a lot of modern medicinal science. AFAIK, he has no degree in science. He has accepted over half a million dollars from fossil fuel related groups. His committee just tweeted a reference to a Breitbart article that apparently grossly misinterprets facts about climate. The comments section following t the article were filled with vilie, highly undignified, highly uncivilized, racist taunts.
    Russian sockpuppet brigades infiltrate our internet posts and spred misinformation and waste our time. President elect Flaggenpussygrabber has all the good sense of an undisciplines grade schooler and has shown himself to be scientifically illiterate and diplomatically illiterate. And, apparently, friends with the Ruskies. I kind of suspect and hope that federal lintelligence agencies have their eyes on him..
    Today, just about every fool and liar can have a pulpit to spew idiocy from . And they do. We are living in stupid times and far too many of our neighbors have accepted the dare to be stupid. Lliterally.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMhwddNQSWQ
    The rate at which civilized norms are breaking up is rather astounding. The increasing level of virulence of the attacks on science and scientists is starting to get worrisome, as are the vile and tastelss attacks on anyone not currently in power. The substitution of manipulated emotions for critical analysis pretty much says to me that Murka is suffering from a terminal case of brain rot. Oh well. Maybe the dark ages won’t last as long this time as the last go round. Maybe there is an anti-biotic strong enough to stop the rot. Maybe there is something to jolt the Murkan immune system back into life. The television industry has helped keep the public stupid, and in the process they have helped spawn a vile monster that threatens to destroy all the best things in Murka.
    And fake news is being used to target and hurt innocent people. Things could fall apart very rapidly now. Right now I don’t see a way forward. But I am thinking.

  43. “I am an engineer by training and I earn my living as research scientist/professor in computer science for the past 10 years or so, so I know how science/engineering works.”
    No, none of that is true. You’re making it up.
    It’s funny how some engineers are the sole holders of the “truth”. Especially outside their field of expertise.
    “The most depressing thing for me, is to see many people who are usually paid (with tax-payers money) ”
    Aaah, here we see your “problem”: you hate paying taxes. Here’s something no brainless moron hating on government taxes never understood: YOUR JOB IS PAID FOR BY TAXPAYERS PAYING FOR YOUR WORK.
    Sure, maybe it isn’t by taxation, but they still are taxpayers, and they are still having to give you money or you won’t know.

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