Two posts at quite different locations caught my attention recently, and led me to the headline:
(1) Jo Nova has a post up on the puzzlement of some people suffering from CO2 Alarmism who cannot comprehend why the American public is not falling in line behind them in droves, and why there is such political polarisation in the States on this issue between Democrats and Republicans. She refers to a recent essay which points to 3 strategies which seem to have failed to make much impact on either ‘puzzle’:
‘The first is education — better informing the public about climate science. The much-derided “information deficit model” has proven a failure in practice.’
‘The second is better “framing,” pitching climate to conservatives in terms more likely to appeal to their values — climate as a national security threat, or an economic opportunity, or a threat to God’s covenant. However, dozens of studies have found small or negligible effects from these strategies.’
‘The third is personal experiences with extreme weather events, which, it is often hoped, will drive home the reality of climate change. But what evidence exists shows that such experiences have little-to-no effect on climate beliefs, especially among committed partisans.’
Jo pithily notes in response to such efforts: ‘Lipstick on a pig. The problem is the pig, not the lipstick.’
She concludes her post thusly:
They simply cannot process the possibility that the groupthink is wrong. It mars all their research, stopping them from even considering the possibility that the “motivated” reasoning is a bigger badder problem on the side driven by irrational fear and herd behaviour and backed by gazillions of dollars.
As a former Green my motivated reasoning was to find evidence to support the theory of a man-made crisis, but the harder I looked the less I found. Some of us can overcome that confirmation bias. Why won’t psychologists research that?
(2) Meanwhile, a few days ago at Science Mag , a post notes the huge financial risks faced by universities in the States if their employees engage in scientific deceptions to obtain federal funding:
The Duke case “should scare all [academic] institutions around the country,” says attorney Joel Androphy of Berg & Androphy in Houston, Texas, who specializes in false claims litigation. It appears to be one of the largest FCA suits ever to focus on research misconduct in academia, he says, and, if successful, could “open the floodgates” to other whistleblowing cases.
Here, FCA denotes the ‘False Claims Act’, a piece of legislation that can require repayment of of up to three times the amount of any grant awarded by the government, and ‘produce a multimillion dollar payout to the whisteblower’:
False claims lawsuits, also known as qui tam suits, are a growing part of the U.S. legal landscape. Under an 1863 law, citizen whistleblowers can go to court on behalf of the government to try to recoup federal funds that were fraudulently obtained. Winners can earn big payoffs, getting up to 30% of any award, with the rest going to the government. Whistleblowers filed a record 754 FCA cases in 2013, and last year alone won nearly $600 million. The U.S. government, meanwhile, has recouped more than $3.5 billion annually from FCA cases in recent years.
Several comments below this Science piece suggest that academic climate campaigners may be in danger of costing their employers a fortune. The Climategate Revelations are cited as general evidence of deviousness in climate science circles – a position also taken by some climate research insiders such as Garth Paltridge in Australia who recently wrote this:
The general public learnt from the Climategate and “hockey-stick” scandals that activist climate scientists are quite willing to cherry-pick and manipulate real world data in support of their efforts to save the world. The scientists on their part have learnt that they can get away with it. Their cause is politically correct, and is shaping up well to be the basis for a trillion-dollar industry. That sort of backing automatically provides plenty of protection.
There is little doubt that vast sums of government money in the US have been disbursed for climate studies. There is little doubt that at least some of the associated research is of low quality. But have federal funds ever been ‘fraudulently obtained’? That would be for the courts to decide, if and when climate whistle-blowers emerge to make prosecutions. Has this now very broad field (including economics, politics, and many areas of science) become that corrupt? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the answer turns out to be yes. But, at this point, given the low quality and occasional turpitude of the ‘climate movement’, and its astonishing and saddening political success, would it have much of an impact?