A new defamatory paper at Nature Communications shows the climate cult sinking to new lows. It follows a familiar technique of creating hatred and division by dividing everyone up into just two groups, the goodies and the baddies. The abstract starts with “We juxtapose 386 prominent contrarians with 386 expert scientists …”, at which point they have already gone astray since many of the so-called contrarians are in fact expert scientists. The claim is that ‘contrarians’ get more media coverage than the scientists, which is an obvious falsehood.
The ‘contrarians’ are also referred to as ‘denialists’ and said to be responsible for ‘disinformation’. In the accompanying press release from the University (a branch of the University of California known as UC Merced) and in their tweet, they are referred to as ‘deniers’.
In the paper, specifically in the caption to figure 2, it is claimed that “we anonymized CCC names to foster privacy”, but this is another falsehood, since the data availability statement at the end of the paper says that all the data is available in ref 64. Ref 64 is a link to a data repository at UC Merced, that until about 4pm on Thursday UK time had all the data available. This was then taken down when Nature and/or the University belatedly realised their error, after complaints were made.
The ‘deniers’ include many climate scientists who support the mainstream IPCC view of climate change, including Roger Pielke Senior and Junior, Scott Denning and Richard Tol.
The paper is a clear breach of ethical standards and is defamatory. It is a stunning illustration of the irrational fanaticism of the climate cult that none of the authors, reviewers or Nature editors seem to have realised this. The university has a Statement of Ethical Values which declares that “We will respect the rights and dignity of others.” Maybe these rules don’t apply to ‘climate deniers’?
As pointed out by Pielke Sr, taking down the data doesn’t help. Nature and UC Merced published it, and it is now widely distributed (the file listing the ‘contrarians’ in order of their number of articles is here).
Taking the link down is merely an admission of error by Nature. A related admission is the deletion by Nature of at least one tweet promoting the paper.
The paper has led to the following blog posts
The latest travesty in ‘consensus enforcement’ – Judith Curry calls it “the worst paper I have ever seen published in a reputable journal”.
Enlisting peer-reviewed science in the climate crusade – Larry Kummer.
Visibility and Invisibility – Willis Eschenbach.
Apart from the ethical violations, the actual content of the paper is absurd, as highlighted by Willis. As I noted at the top of the post, any glance at media coverage of climate change shows that their main claim is false. So how did the authors come up with this fake claim? Well, read the post by Willis. They included blog posts as media articles. If you look at the list of contrarians linked above, you’ll see that by far the most prominent ‘contrarian’ is apparently Marc Morano, with over 4000 media articles. Looking into the data files reveals how this works. Most of these, about 80%, are articles at Morano’s own site, Climate Depot. So according to these expert professors of data analysis, Marc Morano has the highest ‘media visibility’ of the contrarians, by virtue of the fact that Marc Morano writes a lot of articles at Marc Morano’s blog mentioning Marc Morano.
Apart from blog entries, there are some media articles mentioning the ‘contrarians’. But a further idiocy of the paper is that many of these articles are in fact personal attacks, mainly in the Guardian. See the image attached to this tweet that shows some of the many hatchet jobs the Guardian has published on Judith Curry. Thus one branch of the climate cult appears to be criticising another branch for attacking people who don’t adhere to the catastrophe narrative.
Two climate scientists, Richard Betts and Richard Klein, have said they think the paper should be withdrawn.
I’ll try to update this as the story evolves. Please put relevant updates in the comments. One development is that a new statement appeared some time today at the bottom of the paper saying
16 August 2019
Editorial Note: This is an update of an editorial note issued on August 15. Readers are alerted that the editors are aware of a number of criticisms related to this work. These criticisms are being considered by the editors. The Supplementary Information for this Article is currently unavailable due to concerns regarding the identification of individuals. We will publish an update once our investigation is complete.
Update 17 Aug:
The Nature paper allows comments. There are quite a lot there already. “An embarrassment for Nature”, “When did Nature become such a pure propaganda tool?”, “This publication is no more than a politically rooted appeal for de-platforming voices who do not sing with the the-end-is-near-choire, masqueraded as a scientific paper.”
A few more blogs posts have appeared.
Peer review in scientific authority and media visibility – Richard Tol wonders how the paper got through editorial and peer review, given the obvious problems with ethics and data processing.
Skeptics get 49% more media, and other fairy fantasy stories from Nature Gossip Mag – Jo Nova says “Skeptics get banned, rejected, blocked and sacked from the mainstream media yet somehow Nature has a paper on Skeptics getting too much media.”
WUWT has three posts on it: an over-the-top rant by the inimitable Monckton of Brenchley, a brief comment from Anthony saying he has complained and is considering taking further action, and a Heartland podcast discussing the paper.
Finally, Ken Rice says the labelling of individuals makes him feel uncomfortable and points out that the authors have got various people on their lists muddled.
Dissed By Thunk Tank Climate Flacks In Nature Magazine – Matt Briggs, statistician to the stars.
Nature Communications Creates a Scientist Blacklist – Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars.
This evening I discovered a wonderfully ironic interview with the editor of the journal Nature Communications responsible for this steaming pile, Elisa de Ranieri. The interview is on peer review, ethics and integrity. Honestly, I’m not making this up:
“The editor plays a crucial role in championing and safeguarding the integrity of peer review. This is particularly true of professional editors, as they are less prone to competing interests when assessing a research work and can thus be more objective in their decisions. A key task performed by editors is reviewer selection, which is essential to maintain the integrity of published material. Professional editors have the competence and time to provide a high-quality and robust peer review experience.
Editors will also work in collaboration with the research community to develop quality and reproducibility standards for doing and reporting research that can be implemented via journal policy, for example using checklists during the peer review process. In this way, they foster integrity in the publishing process and promote ethics in research practices.”
At the end of the article there’s a link to some slides where Ranieri dispenses more wisdom about ethics, integrity, robust peer review, competence, accountability and trust!
There’s been another change, an “author correction” was published on Aug 29th. The correction says that some of the figures have been changed to remove names. I recall that one figure originally had Richard Lindzen written on it.
Another, unannounced, change is that the full data set, that was pulled, has now been reinstated. Clicking on ref 64 in the paper takes you to this page at UCMerced from which you can click at the top right and get the full dataset. Unzipping that file gives you about a dozen files including one misleadingly called MediaCloud_CCC_CCS_Individualfiles_ANONYMIZED.zip, and if you unzip that you get all the files that were originally labelled with people’s names, but now just have numbers. For example, to choose the number 42 at random, CCC-42_385.txt. This file has a long list of media articles, which identify the “contrarian” concerned. In this case the media articles include “John Coleman slams Al Gore over climate change claims” and “Weather Channel Co-Founder John Coleman: Climate Change Is a Myth,” so just by scanning the titles you can see who contrarian number 42 is.