Who Wrote the World’s Worst Scientific Paper?

I want to have a go at analysing the World’s Worst Scientific Paper one of these days, but first there’s the question: Who among the fourteen listed authors actually wrote it?

Obviously lead author Jeffrey A. Harvey must take responsibility. But who actually penned it? Harvey is a researcher in terrestrial ecology with expertise in 1) Life history strategies in parasitoids and hyperparasitoids 2) Plant-herbivore-parasitoid interactions 3) Community ecology 4) Science and advocacy. Only the latter area of expertise is relevant to this paper, and on his University blog he says:

Scientists are currently faced with the immense challenge of better informing the public and policy makers as to the underlying causes and potential consequences of human-induced simplification of the biosphere. Although our knowledge of factors shaping the evolution, assembly and functioning of ecosystems is poorly understood, we do know that over large spatial and temporal scales, conditions and processes which nurture life and humanity are generated. [???] At the same time, sophisticated techniques are being employed around the world by powerful, vested interests that are aiming to change the way the public thinks about the environment. For example, a number of dubious sources are invoking science as a tool to influence and reshape public opinion, to attack the consensus view held amongst the scientific community, and to ultimately influence politicians into reducing environmental regulations. In the face of this new threat from the political right, scientists are faced with the immense challenge of better informing the public and policy makers as to the underlying causes and potential consequences of human-induced changes to the biosphere and their consequent effects on the delivery of ecosystem services. Over the past several years I have become actively involved in discussions based on bridging economics and ecology, in an attempt to stem the relentless flow of disinformation emanating from a number of surprisingly well-endowed think tanks and public relations firms that are distorting science to support a political agenda and pre-determined worldview on environmental issues.

There’s material there for a half a dozen articles on climate denialism, a lot of it pure Dunlap (cited four times in the paper) or Conway & Oreskes (cited six times.) Harvey is certainly the driving force, since he makes his activism perfectly clear in a post about his new article on the Amsterdam Free University website

Scientists, climb down from your desk and start to counter the misinformation on social media directly – and via the traditional media as well. Engage with the public via the blogosphere or citizen science for example. And very importantly, adjust your focus to what is clear instead of all the uncertain things still to be studied.’

Accentuate the positive, as Richard Feynman might have said.

Five other authors are ecologists working in the Netherlands. From the same Amsterdam Free University website we learn that Peter Roessingh, researcher at the UvA Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics contributed to the statistical analysis. He explains:

Although it seems almost silly to apply statistics to a dataset with such a clear signal as this, we thought it was important to stay as objective as possible in this highly ‘polarised’ field. A large fraction of the information available to the general public has no scientific basis. The main message of the paper therefore is that scientists should get more vocal in the public domain and directly counter misinformation.’

So he is presumably responsible for the four pie charts and the scatter diagram which form the meat of the argument. In the scatter diagram it is clear that in a principal components cluster analysis using Manhattan distances and Ward’s clustering,” the green triangles are very far from the yellow squares.

This is science for the nursery school.

No it’s not. That’s unfair to five-year-olds. They deserve better than this.

Jacintha Ellers is professor of evolutionary ecology, and head of the section animal ecology. She is “interested to understand how an individual’s phenotype is shaped by the joint interplay of its genes, genome, and environment [combining] molecular, physiological and experimental tools with evolutionary approaches to link the underlying mechanisms to adaptive explanations.”

Daphne van den Berg is in the school of behavioural ecology. She looks very young and has published no papers.

Rascha J. M. Nuijten is a PhD student working on Unravelling the annual cycle of an Arctic migrant (Bewick’s swans) in search of the cause of its decline’.

Thomas Crowther is an ecosystem ecologist. He is interested in “the influence of soil biota on large-scale carbon and nutrient dynamics. He focusses on organism interacting to mediate carbon losses from soil, and the responses and feedbacks to climate change.”

Four more authors work in biology departments in North America.

Meena Balgopal of Colorado State is part of a research group “..interested in how people make meaning of natural science concepts. We explore meaning making (interpretation) and learning (storing and recalling information) by studying how people speak, read, and write about science.” She has authored many studies e.g. “Fuel for fun: A cluster-randomized controlled study of cooking skills, eating behaviors, and physical activity of 4th graders and their families.”

Nothing on blogs or polar bears though.

Eric Post is a professor at the University of California conducting “research on ecological dynamics in time and space, and across levels of biological organization….All of this work is empirical, and most of it combines meticulous, long-term field observation with field experimentation conducted in the Arctic… Focal taxa include tundra plants, large herbivores, some birds, and a few invertebrates.” (No polar bears then.)

Ian Stirling is a member of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group but he retired ten years ago.

Steven Anstrup is a polar bear expert. Having observed the effect of climate change on polar bears and their Arctic habitat during his career as a researcher, he now works as an advocate for polar bears and promotes climate change mitigation.” He retired seven years ago.

Of the four non-biologists, Remko Kampen seems to be the author of “Climate Justice from a Club Good Perspective” which he coauthored while attending the Wroclaw School of Banking, Poland.

Bart Verheggen is an atmospheric scientist, a specialist in atmospheric aerosols and particularly interested in science communication. He has a blog article about the paper here.

Michael Mann is a climate scientist.

Stephan Lewandowsky is a psychologist.

So that’s ten biologists, including two specialists in polar bears (both retired) two climate scientists, one banker and a psychologist. But who did what?

We can certainly attribute the general strategy to Michael Mann, sinced he invented it. It’s called the Serengheti Strategy, and it involves picking off the strongest members of the herd that you’re attacking. The classic analysis of it is by Brad Keyes and it’s here. (Where else?)

…avoiding the runts, gimps and weaklings, the big cats set their sights on the best, most robust and reproductively-fit “alpha stud.” Enter Mike Mann.

When it comes to attacking denialist blogs, the favoured target is Susan Crockford since:

– she’s a scientist who knows what she’s talking about

– she’s been proved right by the data

– she’s made a couple of the authors of this paper look silly

Michael Mann may also be responsible for the references to Mann et al 1998, Mann in hardback “the Climate Wars,” and M.E. Mann in the New York Times:

The overwhelming consensus .. a fringe minority .. an irrational rejection of well-established science .. virulent strain of anti-science ..climate change is real .. 97 percent agree .. it is no longer acceptable for scientists to remain on the sidelines. I should know. I had no choice but to enter the fray. I was hounded .. threatened with violence and more .. it is our moral obligation ..our children and grandchildren .. in climate change, we see a clear and present danger .. drought .. wildfires .. withering record summer heat ..rapid Arctic warming ..strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States .. the future children of my 8-year-old daughter ..the threat ..the stakes.

[That’s enough Mann: -Ed.]

I detect the hand of Stephan Lewandowsky in the second section, “Using hot topics as “keystone dominoes.” That concept has the odour of the Lew about it, and the mention of “keystone” inevitably recalls COPs 21 to 23, and the uncanny resemblance of John Cook to Fatty Arbuckle.

Unusually, there are no conclusions to this article. Instead, the final section is entitled: “Overcoming reticence: Scientists as advocates in countering AGW denial” which is not so much a title as a call to arms. With a title like that, the only possible conclusion is the total overcoming of all reticence. “Surrender, O Three Percent. You’re outnumbered.”

The first paragraph of the final section, shorn of references and examples, says this:

Pimm and Harvey (2000) provided three criteria with which to evaluate the credibility of scientific studies. First and most importantly, follow the data… Second, follow the money… Third, follow the credentials… These criteria confirm that many denier blogs are deliberately distorting science to promote predetermined worldviews and political or economic agendas … A fourth criterion that we can add here is to follow the language. ..those who deny AGW do not hesitate to attack their opponents with insults, and have smeared scientists by calling them names such as “eco-fascists,” “fraudsters,” or “green terrorists” or by accusing them of being part of a global “scam” or “hoax.”

I’ve left out a couple of libellous remarks about Susan Crockford, but left in enough for 45 blogs to sue the authors if they want. But note the novel principles of scientific enquiry established here, (of judging the science by the funding, the qualifications, and the language used) and the source cited, co-authored by Jeffrey Harvey himself.

I’ve only a screencap of the first page of the article, but a quote will give the flavour of the sole source cited for this radical new definition of the criteria for scientific credibility.

The World at our Fingertips, by Stuart Pimm and Jeff Harvey

Saturday mornings, I get up before dawn, grind the coffee beans, toast my bagel, sit down to breakfast, and make a very large number of people unhappy. Saturday is the day I do my reviewing for Science. I terminate four fifths of the papers on my desk denying them the chance of further review. Five or more manuscripts a week, fifty issues a year, multiple authors per manuscript, and seven years on the job and I estimate that I’ve rejected papers by ten thousand ecologists. That could be everyone in our profession; it’s likely to include you…

You’ll have noticed that I have a co-author for this essay. Harvey used to do much the same job for Nature, but we’re not writing this together because there’s safety in numbers. Rather, we share a common concern about how we all learn and how that “how” has changed dramatically – and surely forever – by the Internet. […]

Our hypothesis is that an idea is born with the life expectancy of a newborn oyster. Most ideas die minutes after exposure to the harsh environment of the graduate students during the departmental coffeee break; more die as soon as colleagues get wind of them. Those that survive get worked into draft manuscripts, where the full fury of collegial scrutiny eliminates yet more, including those with fatal statistical flaws. For those that survive, the author sends the idea to someone in the field who actually knows something about the subject. More serious mortality follows. Only then does a manuscript venture to a journal; even there, the majority (the vast majority at Science and Nature) die. Some of those that succeed are deprived of offspring by the letters to the editor that follow publication. Our prediction follows: the more brutal the selection, the better the ideas that survive. The data support our hypothesis.

Read the last paragraph quoted from that article co-authored by Jeffrey Harvey seventeen years ago. Then read (Harvey et al., 2017) – and weep.

40 thoughts on “Who Wrote the World’s Worst Scientific Paper?

  1. Amstrup had this in Huffington Post Aug 2017, and quotes Pimm and Harvey:

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/truth-or-lies-separating-fact-from-fiction-in-the_us_599c6cf0e4b0ac90f2cbaa21

    Separating Fact from Fiction

    “In their insightful essay, The World at Our Fingertips, Stuart Pimm and Jeff Harvey offer a set of basic guidelines to assess what we hear and read:

    Follow the data. Is the statement supported by evidence or does the data trail go quickly cold?

    Follow the credentials. Have the authors/speakers done any research or other work to establish expertise in the subject? Do they cite peer-reviewed sources?

    Follow the language. Do the authors/speakers substitute personal attacks and sweeping statements for data and analysis?

    Follow the money. Who is paying for that statement; what may they have to gain by doing so?”

    Amstrup concludes with

    “It may be comforting to believe human activities are not warming the planet or that polar bears are not threatened with extinction. But the evidence shows both claims are false We’ve long known what we need to do to ensure a future for polar bears. If we stop atmospheric greenhouse gas rise we can stabilize sea ice and prevent polar bears from disappearing over much of their range. The evidence also is clear that if we act in time to save polar bears, we’ll benefit the rest of life on Earth, including ourselves. And, that is how the world really is!”

    Dr. Steven C. Amstrup is the chief scientist at Polar Bears International.

    Amstrup is also Chief Lying Hypocrite at Polar Bears International

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Accentuate the positive, as Richard Feynman might have said.

    Didn’t he just. Once the authors of this paper turn their expert attention to the history of science, having put paid not just to pesky healthy polar bears but renegade kulak-researchers (death to spies), I’m sure we’ll find that’s exactly what he said.

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  3. It is not correct to say that the paper has no conclusions. It is just that rather than having a “conclusions” or “discussion” section, its conclusions are instead sprinkled throughout the paper, either stated or strongly implied.

    For example, in their methodology description, it is stated that “Author’s positions in papers were scored in in [sic] same ‘position space’ defined by binary answers to the six statements formulated in the main papers and citation of Dr. Susan Crockford as an expert.”

    They decided whether a blog or paper was “denier”, based on these scores. So, they SELECTED their sample of “denier” blogs, in part, by whether they cited Crockford.

    Then, scattered throughout the paper, they state things such as this section head: “Arctic ice extent and polar bears are proxies for AGW denial.”

    Well… from their data, of course. They selected their “denier” items by whether and how they discussed ice extent, and polar bears. It is a foregone conclusion because of their selection criteria.

    In other words, their correlations (so strongly implied as to be virtually stated explicitly) are not actually demonstrated at all. They selected their “denier” material to have these very properties.

    So while the conclusions are not stated explicitly, they are certainly evident in the wording of the paper. But they are also decidedly circular. It is impossible to deduce a correlation when you selected for the very properties you are claiming to correlate.

    Just another way in which it qualifies as “worst paper”.

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  4. Only in the real Serengeti the lions usually steal the prey from the hyenas, and the hyenas pick the runt of the litter which is lowest risk. Read Darwin.

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  5. @Geoff
    Please don’t mix up the University of Amsterdam (Roessingh), the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Harvey) and their joint venture Amsterdam University College (Verheggen).

    The principal component analysis was done by Roessingh. His publication list suggest that he has no particular expertise in PCA, and this is confirmed by the three basic errors made (missing values, row independence, column independence).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hanserren.
    Only in the real Serengeti it’s the lionesses that do the killing. Lions roar, strut about and rely on their size and reputation.. Oh, OK as you were…

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  7. Susan Crockford says:
    As Steve Mosher pointed out on another blog, Bioscience has particular requirements regarding multi-authored papers: https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice/#comment-107484

    Everyone listed as an author of an article must have made a substantial contribution to the manuscript. In the case of multiple-author contributions, please upload as a supplementary file a brief statement detailing the contribution of each author. [etc]

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/12/07/an-interview-with-dr-susan-crockford-on-the-harvey-et-al-attack-paper/

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Except for students of the History of Ideas, it doesn’t really matter who wrote what. All co-authors are equally responsible for all parts of the paper. As co-authors they have agreed to every part of the paper. If Susan Crockford were ever to be awarded damages for libel, all would be EQUALLY liable, as would be the publishers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So it would appear that the main people behind the world’s worst scientific paper, in no particular order of importance, are: Jeff Harvey, Steven Amstrup, Michael Mann, Stephan Lewandowsky. The other 10 authors appear to be there in supporting roles only, with the exception of Roessingh, who did the (rather poor) statistical analysis and Verheggen, whose involvement is still somewhat puzzling.

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  10. I think the WWF needs to be asked whether their adverts on TV at the moment, are to raise money to save Polar Bears, or the so called “experts” who have become enriched, greedy and vicious.

    If eco-tourists want to see Polar Bears, Russia can do it cheaper:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4997538/Polar-bears-hold-Russian-villagers-hostage.html

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4577222/incredible-moment-more-than-230-polar-bears-descend-on-a-russian-beach-to-feast-on-a-giant-whale-carcass/

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  11. Geoff, interesting post.

    In a comment on another thread I said that the paper “stinks of Lewandowsky”, following a comment from Barry who pointed out the similarity.

    It has his smelly fingerprints all over it – the bogus smearing of deniers, the unethical defamatory remarks about named individuals, the failure to provide supporting details.

    Also the dishonest misrepresentation of the qualifications of his victims, see his paper on Plimer for a similar example. Based on Lew’s article, you’d get the impression that Ian Plimer is just a “skeptic” blogger, when in fact he’s a prof with a lot of publications. Exactly what this paper does to Susan Crockford.

    But the polar bear guys must have played a major role too. Most likely Amstrup, who seems to be the most extreme (see the polar-bear-gate emails) and who, we know, lied about Crockford in a recent interview.

    So my guess would be that a lot of the paper was written by the two Steves.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Alan:

    Except for students of the History of Ideas, it doesn’t really matter who wrote what. All co-authors are equally responsible for all parts of the paper. As co-authors they have agreed to every part of the paper. If Susan Crockford were ever to be awarded damages for libel, all would be EQUALLY liable, as would be the publishers.

    Very important point at the end but disagree with the first sentence, unless you’re including all of us as students of very modern history of ideas. With something as putrid as this one instinctively feels it matters who has form in the different forms of stinkiness.

    On which, Paul, Mann has authored with Lewandowsky before and I can’t help smelling joint fingerprints on “bogus smearing of deniers, the unethical defamatory remarks about named individuals, the failure to provide supporting details”. Yuk.

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  13. Paul Matthews,
    Lewandowsky and Amstrup would be the best character witnesses that Mann could buy, should he need them in Court.

    Alan Kendall,
    I am not doubting what you say about shared liability for damages, but is there any Legal Precedent for Peer Reviewed Science?

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  14. ‘Statistics is not broken, but it’s application to science is.’

    “We need to appreciate that data analysis is not purely computational and algorithmic — it is a human behaviour. In this case, the behaviour is made worse by training that was developed for a data-poor era.”

    I this case, the behaviour is made EVEN worse by vindictiveness, grudge-bearing, animosity to alternative viewpoints and political advocacy.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-07522-z?WT.mc_id=TWT_NA_1711_FHCOMMENTFIXSTATS_PORTFOLIO

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  15. But Richard I do include you in the brethren of those interested in the History of Ideas – and the HoI includes both recent and stinky ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The Cliscep Twitter account has been dormant until today but I just did this

    Jaime was the first to retweet. I initially was using the account to make a favourite of this

    after being blocked by Paul for my horrid response

    The software guru blocked again and thereby becomes the first person to excommunicate Cliscep on Twitter! No hard feelings of course. Back on topic everyone 🙂

    Like

  17. Oh, and here’s another lie. The current version of the paper both online and in pdf claims that the SI is on-line. But it isn’t, when you click the link you get a ‘not found’ message.

    sifile

    Edit: the above is correct, but if you look lower down, at the end of the paper, under the Refereces, there are now links to files containing the list of blogs (falsely referring to Lomborg, Ridley etc as AGW denying) and the so-called “data”.

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  18. Alan Kendall 11.13am
    Thank you! Interesting reading on US Law. It makes the point that “Libel Tourists” prefer to win in UK Courts.

    Pages 11 and 12 of the pdf also give advice for editors/publishers.

    The authors can’t claim innocence, because this would confirm their incompetence as authors/researchers, and this would also apply to the Editor and Publisher.

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  19. Harvey et al have succeeded in publishing lists of Blogs that can be trusted, and those that can’t. They got the labelling 100% wrong.

    Small details, like factual accuracy, are very important in the USA at the moment, but I don’t know whether “vexatious litigant” has the same meaning in US Courts.

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  20. The ATTP post referenced above also includes Jeff Harvey’s explanation of the paper with the following quotes:

    ” Our paper was about scientific transparency and integrity.” https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice/#comment-107479

    “Climate change deniers are engaged in one big love-in. Their blogs are one big echo chamber. Scientists, on the other hand, are ruthlessly self critical.” https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice/#comment-107470

    Like

  21. ROGERCAIAZZA

    I wonder if ATTP or any of his regulars spot the hypocrisy, failed psychology and blatant lies?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Oddly, The world at our fingertips (2000) included five ‘criteria with which to evaluate the credibility of scientific studies’, not three, and one of those five was the supposedly new fourth criterion announced in Internet Blogs, Polar Bears… (2017): ‘Follow the language’. The fifth was ‘Uncover the conspiracy’.* (I wonder why that one wasn’t mentioned. Could it be that a certain space wombat conspired to exclude it for territorial reasons? Or just something to do with denying the Law of Fives?)

    Not a biggie but it’s yet another indication that Internet Blogs, Polar Bears… is a bit of a mess.

    Another is the ambiguity of its fourth position statement: ‘polar bears are threatened with extinction by present and future AGW’. What did its authors mean by ‘present AGW’? Warming currently present, current warming trends, something else entirely? ‘Extinction’ needs defining, too. And ‘threatened’. And ‘future’, of course, but I think that’s already been mentioned.

    ===
    *The fifth protocol:

    5. Uncover the conspiracy. Of course, there is an hypothesis for the stark contrast between what one can read on the web and in newspapers with the peer-reviewed literature. To journalist Stephen Budiansky the scientific literature’s consensus about deforestation, extinction rates and other facets of humanity’s impact are “doomsday myths” perpetrated by scientists as part of a global plot. Some years ago, over lunch, he seriously informed Pimm and his wife, Julia, that Professor E. O. Wilson (of Harvard University) was the lead conspirator. She nearly choked on her pasta. Our conspiracy has been unmasked! The truth is out there – The X-files assures us – and we have been discovered.

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  23. “Rascha J. M. Nuijten is a PhD student working on ‘Unravelling the annual cycle of an Arctic migrant (Bewick’s swans) in search of the cause of its decline’.”

    If he/she had done a quick google, he/she would have discovered that the Russians, (who else), are shooting them.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/birdwoman-who-migrated-with-swans-finds-key-to-their-decline-fktmc6pn9

    “Sacha Dench yesterday became the first woman to fly a motorised paraglider across the Channel in the closing stages of her epic journey tracking Bewick’s swans.

    Since mid-September she has been flying at the same speed and height as the swans across 11 countries, dangling from a fabric wing with a propeller strapped to her back.”

    Now THAT’S investigation for you, no computer modelling nonsense and she avoided being shot!

    “Ms Dench said that the real reason for the decline in geese in subsistence hunting areas was that they had changed their migratory routes to feed in places newly converted to farming.”

    She found that people in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands who had permits to shoot the more abundant mute swans were unable to distinguish between them and Bewick’s.

    “It raises the question: should people be given licences if they can’t tell the difference?” Ms Dench, 41, asked.”

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Golf Charlie, As most know ATTP runs an echo chamber and thus the site has little of value except his opinion without any diversity of views, like a safe space for alarmists whose views can’t take the slightest skepticismo

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  25. Golf Charlie: Re Amstrup Huffing and Puffing…

    The James Hansen of the Arctic, Steven Amstrup, had another offering at the end of November,

    http://therevelator.org/tropical-islands-polar-bears-warming/

    This is from the Center for Biological Diversity, a bunch of well funded lawyers who In February 2005 petitioned the federal government to list polar bears as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

    “After proposing the polar bear for threatened status, the US Interior Department will allow 90 days of public comment on the proposal. If the animal is then added to the endangered species list, all US government agencies will be obliged by law to consider if their actions are adding to global warming.

    The petition, supported by the claims of Stirling, DeRocher and Amstrup, suitably enhanced, was successful. They even included Al Gore’s drowned polar bears and the myth about bear cannibalism because they were supposedly starving.

    Who are they? There is background here, from 2010: https://www.utne.com/Environment/Suing-to-Save-the-Planet:

    “Twenty years ago, they were Earth Firsters, living in tepees, trying to save spotted owls, and grafting together a shoestring budget from their unemployment checks. Today, the Center for Biological Diversity has a budget of $7 million, 62 full-time staffers, and 15 offices nationally.”

    They have expanded since then, http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/about/staff/index.html

    2006 –In December the Administration declared that the polar bear should be added to the endangered species list “because of the drastic melting of its habitat”.

    “This is a victory for the polar bear, and all wildlife threatened by global warming,” said Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Centre for Biological Diversity. “There is still time to save polar bears, but we must reduce greenhouse gas pollution immediately

    2006 – “These penguin species will march right into extinction unless greenhouse gas pollution is controlled,” said the center’s Kassie Siegel. “It is not too late to save them, but we must seize the available solutions to global warming immediately.”

    2008 – Formal scientific petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting protection of the Pacific walrus under the Endangered Species Act.

    2010 – Unless we dramatically reduce our greenhouse emissions, the walrus is on a trajectory toward extinction,” said Rebecca Noblin, the Center’s Alaska director.”

    In 2009 they opened the Climate Law Institute with $17 million from globalist foundations,

    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/climate_law_institute/

    They have often worked in partnership with Amstrup’s PBI. https://polarbearsinternational.org/about-us

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  26. Harvey et al is a list of blogs the Hockey Team and associates do not want trusted. The Hockey Team have a record of getting things the wrong way around, and this was Peer Reviewed, and publicised by Blogs and media outlets they did trust, and who relied on them

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  27. @Tol-

    ….”The principal component analysis was done by Roessingh. His publication list suggest that he has no particular expertise in PCA, and this is confirmed by the three basic errors made (missing values, row independence, column independence).””

    Jim has a post up:

    https://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/war-pythagoras-poisson-and-skellam/

    that you will likely find of interest as he talks a bit about the type of errors that can occur when a few assumptions are not valid.

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  28. A PCA does not require row independence or column independence and they are routinely conducted with missing data.

    This is why human genomicists routinely conduct PCA on genetic data containing individuals who are not a random sample because of population structure (= row non-independence) and using linked loci (= column non-independence) and with some missing data at some loci.

    Richard Tol yet again proves that he is clueless.

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  29. GRIMAGE
    I know I should care about whether Richard Tol or you are right about Principle Component Analysis but I don’t. I look at the results and see horse poo and don’t care to look further. Of the 45 “scientific” blogs identified in Harvey et al. using this technique, I noted that the second was run by an English graduate and experts on China and small islands, and Vinny Burgoo has just identified the first as being the work of loonies who believe the End is Nigh.

    I vaguely remember PCA as a technique used by a colleague when I worked in market research over forty years ago, when there was just one computer in London, a big hot whirring thing at IBM’s head office. The colleague put everything he knew about consumer desires in one end and out the other came the product concept of the (last) century – soft drinks for dogs. Orthogonal, or what?

    We’re still waiting for Canine Cola, as we’re still waiting for the Arctic to unfreeze over. Some like statistical analysis, and some like the evidence of their own lying eyes. It’s the difference between science and swivel-eyed expertise.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. you’ve got Mann’s Serengheti strategy backwards: it’s to pick off the weakest member of the flock. e.g. only academic named by Mark Jacobson was the one author who did not have university libel insurance

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  31. STEVE MCINTYRE
    Jacobson may undertstand the strategy, but I’m not sure about Mann, who coined the term. In his book he says:

    Climate change deniers went on to wage a public—and very personal—assault against my coauthors and me in the hope that somehow they might discredit all of climate science, the fruit of the labors of thousands of scientists from around the world, by discrediting us and our work. The Serengeti strategy writ large.

    …unless Mann, with uncharacteristic modesty, is identifying himself as one of the weak stragglers in the herd…

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  32. dennisambler, your post of 12/07 regarding the CO2 obsessed predictions (all incorrect) and the connection of those predictions to monetary benefits is intriguing. Thanks for posting it.

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  33. The old adage of “follow the money” likely helps understand this paper quite a bit. If there had been a lucrative cottage industry based on the plight of Tibetan glaciers, it is a good bet that the skeptic led retraction would gave never happened.
    Now we have a group led by a “scientist” with a lucrative career based on using the polar bear as a money magnet for the gullible. The last thing he and his gang want is a fact based dustraction from their various places at tge clunate money trough.
    Stopping the decline of polar bear (money) by ganging up on a threat is important.
    If the polar bear (money) becomes endangered, it might kead to inconvenient questions about any number of other (lucrative) icons in the climate financial eco-system.
    Nobel prize winner Mann, being lead predator along with chief hyena Lewandowsky, had to act.

    Like

  34. Steve:

    you’ve got Mann’s Serengheti strategy backwards: it’s to pick off the weakest member of the flock. e.g. only academic named by Mark Jacobson was the one author who did not have university libel insurance

    Yep, the example of Jacobson is truly chilling.

    I read Mann’s application to himself in his book (without having actually read it) as taking on the mantle of “Poor Phil” (thanks Hilary, originally, for that phrase, I think).

    Like

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