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.

20 Aug:

More blogs:

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.

Blacklist by Nature follows defamation by BioScience: journals reject ethics of science – Susan Crockford.

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!

16 Sept:

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.



  1. Defamation is not the only crime committed by the authors of this paper. There’s also the question of torture of the English language and the procuring of simple math(s) equations for corrupt purposes. Take this sentence from near the end of the paper:

    Since not all CCC are career academics or research scientists, this misattribution error [the author name disambiguation problem] tends to artificially boost an unpublished individual’s total number of publications Pi from 0 to Pi ≡ η ≥ 0, where η is a random variable representing misattribution noise.

    Translation: We didn’t do the research, we got a machine to do it for us, and the machine can’t tell whether our J. Cook is the well known charlatan, liar and expert on climate science, or somebody else, who has never published anything about climate science, and whose number of publications (P little I) therefore equals zero, but is identified in our paper as being equal to the Greek letter mu, which might be zero or possibly some other quite different number.

    In a normal organisation, people expressing themselves like this would be transferred to other, less onerous duties. How many janitors does it take to keep the University of California or the Paris School of Science Po tidy?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Geoff,

    I know that this is dreadfully off-topic, but I can’t resist drawing attention to the following quote made by a BBC journalist in relation to Edinburgh City council’s decision to allow children one day off per year to strike on climate change:

    “The principle purpose of schools is to raise attainment.”

    Well, I suppose it is – in principle. But not, it seems, when it comes to children who aspire to a journalistic career with the BBC.


  3. Paul,

    I note, with interest, that the same paper has attracted the attention of the ATTP crew:


    However, not surprisingly, a different stance has been taken. Basically, they think that the paper is flawed, but also quite unnecessary since it attempts to demonstrate something that they think should be obvious to everyone. To put it in one of the commenter’s words:

    “They messed up an ostensibly quantitative study that everyone knew was qualitatively true.”

    Well, at least they are right on the first count, although ‘ostensibly quantitative’ must go down as the understatement of all time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Is it this David Bol tweet ?


  5. @paul – did wonder until I read the bottom of the post if it might be you!! – first link for this from Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

    @John – “made by a BBC journalist in relation to Edinburgh City council’s decision to allow children one day off per year to strike on climate change”

    so funny, in my days in Edinburgh (30yrs ago) in winter we still got snow & everybody had problems getting about.
    make it a “snowflake climate change day” sometime in dec/jan

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stew,

    The BBC article to which I referred can be found at:


    The David Bol tweet appears to be quoting from the above article.

    The full story is that children are to be officially allowed one day a year to strike. The head teachers (i.e. the principals) think this is giving the wrong message since it undermines their fight against truancy. The activists think this is giving the wrong message because it is restricting the children’s rights to protest on a matter of principle. Unlike some BBC journalists (it seems), I come from a generation that still thinks that it is important to know the difference between a principal and a principle, and so I am with the head teachers. Also, taken from the same BBC article:

    “I think everybody recognises that movement is increasing and is having a big affect.”

    Wow! It certainly is. However, I feel guilty inviting such off-topic discussion. Better that we return to Paul’s subject-matter.


  7. Ahh yes, the old school’s discipline ploy…

    In my day, we managed to get one of the senior teacher to admit that: “Of course we strictly apply the school uniform rules. I gives you something to argue about and deflects you from questioning the quality of your educatiom”


  8. Well done Paul for marking this new low point of the CO2-exploiting brigades. One consolation is that it seems likely that this dire paper, this display of moral turpitude and intellectual incompetence, will encourage a few more people to dig deeper into the climate hoo-hah, and there they will discover it is largely hyped-up flim-flam on a foundation too weak to justify alarm, let alone ‘crisis’ or ’emergency’.


  9. There are many things wrong with the paper: design, sampling, data quality, ethics. None of these things are easy to make stick.

    The violation of privacy and the lack of ethics approval are easy to prove.


  10. John Shade, I’ve just noticed you are on the list – congratulations!

    Number 220 in the rankings, with 15 articles about you, 3 in the mainstream media.

    They list this and this in the Mail.

    Not sure how you got on the list though. You don’t have an entry at desmog and you aren’t a Heartland speaker are you?


  11. I see “DAVID BELLAMY” made the list for his sin’s.

    reminded me of this “https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/david-bellamy-i-was-shunned-they-didnt-want-to-hear-8449307.html”

    that really got him got more media coverage – not!!


  12. I thoroughly enjoyed the  “over-the-top rant by the inimitable [Lord] Monckton of Brenchley,”  at WUWT, particularly this bit:

    “By this letter I give notice that, subject to anything you may say within the next seven days, I propose to report you for fraud to the prosecuting authorities in the United Kingdom, where your press release has been widely circulated, in the United States, where you perpetrated your fraud, and internationally to Interpol. I wrote yesterday to the Chancellor of your institution, drawing his attention to the lies and misrepresentations in your press release and inviting him to withdraw it.”

    You can devote your life to pointing out politely the errors in a paper, and where does it get you? Oreskes and Mann are still among the BBC’s preferred climate experts. Talk lawyers, and the editor of Nature (or whoever) is forced to do the same. Imagine what happens next. He calls in his legal expert whose first question is: “Does this Monckton of Brenchley have a case? Is the paper defamatory?”

    “Er, I haven’t actually read it myself.”

    “So who has?”

    “Er, the peer reviewers.”

    “Who are?”

    “Dunno. They’re anonymous.”

    After a long pause, and no doubt expressed more tactfully, the legal expert points out that if the editor wants to avoid a court case, he needs to find a number of eminent scientists willing to vouchsafe for its credibility before a court of law; he needs to read the paper which he is responsible for publishing himself; and then he needs to explain his justification for publishing it to experts in libel law whose time listening to the explanations has to be paid for at barristers’ rates… and so on.

    In other words, a good old-fashioned over-the-top rant by someone who sounds like he might actually put the lawyers (and Interpol!) on the case may do more to make science mend its ways than all the peer reviewed articles you can perhaps get past the censors in five years’ time.


  13. Paul, I was a little surprised to see my humble self on the list. I think it is because I did some detailed screening of submitted papers for an NIPCC report a few years ago. I am not on any list of speakers. I did once consider preparing a presentation on climate scaremongering to offer to schools, but I decided it was unlikely I’d get in many doors given how far and how deeply the CO2 alarm ailment has spread. I have been working on an outline for a series of posts at my blog on self-help in that area for parents, teachers, and pupils, and I’m hoping to get them underway soon. One aspect that should encourage more people to do their own digging in this field is just how unimpressive the scientific and political activists can be, and how often basic checks of their claims can show them up. The paper that is the focus of your post here is yet another example of poor work, ostensibly driven by the lure of ‘good’ headlines in the mass media and the creation of a new catchphrase to encourage more censorship.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. There is a basic rule of logic that one would have hoped all would respect: One cannot use the anticipated results of an analysis as a basis for determining what is, and is not, valid data to be used for the analysis. By the same token, an academic consensus is not a valid basis for denying a request for tenure by an applicant holding contrarian views, since such a consensus would then represent both the result of, and justification for, such refusals.

    This is the reason why I cannot be arsed with people who argue from consensus to justify the entrenchment of consensus.


  15. John S, they say they have 3 ways of getting people onto their blacklist – desmog, speakers at Heartland and “lead authors of the 2015 Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report”.

    Well firstly, there wasn’t a 2015 NIPCC report, as far as I can see. The NIPCC website they link to only gives four people as lead authors. And your name doesn’t seem to be on the site at all, not even as a chapter reviewer, so that’s a mystery.

    Yesterday Richard Tol found another illustration of their incompetence. He looked up Joel Wood who used to work with Ross McKitrick and therefore must be a denialist. They have one mainstream media article about him and it is this letter to the Guardian, which has no mention at all of Joel Wood (It does however mention a Joel Benjamin and a Rod Wood).

    By the way, if anyone does want to waste time rummaging through the data files, they are linked at Willis Eschnbach’s post, link above.

    If you just want the list of contrarians, it’s here.


  16. Saw at Matt Briggs’ blog that you had deciphered what the really long sciencey numbers after the rankings meant. I’m #131 on the list, apparently appearing in one media publication somewhere, but I can’t guess which one it would be.

    I, too, emailed the editors of the magazine to say they should retract it, less from my name appearing on the list when I offer the public no climate scientist assessments, but more because of how totally worthless the Desmogblog “project” is as a source of data for the paper: “Open Letter to Nature Communications (the ‘Skeptic Climate Scientists Do Not Deserve Fair Media Balance’ Redux Problem)” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=8899


  17. Paul, the report I helped with was published in 2013. Use ctrl-F here: https://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-institute .

    I must say I was very pleased to have been of some tiny help, as I think the NIPCC reports are very worthwhile, and deserve to be widely read. Perhaps the dire paper in Nature Comms will also lead to a wider readership. For anyone passing this way who has not taken a look at the reports, now’s your chance: http://climatechangereconsidered.org/ .


  18. Thanks for the link to the removed data.

    I’ve spent only about ten minutes looking at it so far and have already found several very trivial (but perhaps indicative) errors:

    1) The last name on the list of Climate Change Scientists is misslept: ‘ALBTERT VAN JAARSVELD’. (Albtert is the current head of IIASA, a Cold War think tank that had to find new eschatologies when 1991 rendered it obsolete and now mostly worries about Global Warming.)

    2) The authors say in their ‘data description’ PDF (and in the main paper) that they used Web of Science to find ~200,000 climate change articles published between 1900 and 2016. If ‘1900’ isn’t a typo for ‘1990’ (possible), why did they bother searching that far back when what they’re interested in is bias in modern media on a subject that has only been prominent in the media since the 1980s?

    3) Climate change articles. Their Web of Science searches used these terms: ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’, ‘climatology’, ‘climate model’ and ‘climate extreme’. Do they really think that academic papers about climatology are always about climate change? (Especially if their search started in 1900.)


  19. There’s a new update to the post – an interview with the editor of the journal about ethics and integrity!

    Russell, thanks for the reminder about the Briggs blog, I have added that.

    I had a look at the file for your name and the one mainstream media article they list is this in the Guardian. It doesn’t mention you, but it mentions Russell Reichelt and someone from James Cook University! So it’s another bogus one like the one that Richard Tol found, see my previous comment.

    John, thanks, mystery solved I think.


  20. Retraction Watch was not very impressed with the way in which Nature Comms handled a recent retraction: https://retractionwatch.com/2019/02/21/why-journal-editors-should-dig-deeper-when-authors-ask-for-a-retraction/#more-86857

    ‘Imagine you’re a journal editor. A group of authors sends you a request to retract one of their papers, saying that “during figure assembly certain images were inappropriately processed.”

    What do you do next? Do you ask some tough questions about just what “inappropriately processed” means? Do you check your files for whether the author’s institution had told you about an investigation into the work? Do you Google the author’s names? Do you…search Retraction Watch?

    It seems unlikely that any of those things happened in the case of a recent retraction from Nature Communications, or, if they did, they don’t seem to have informed the notice. We don’t know for sure, because, as is typical, the journal isn’t saying much. But here’s what we do know.’

    See the link for more details of the apparently feeble response of Nature Comms in this instance regarding a paper published by them in 2017, and retracted at the authors’ request in February, 2019.


  21. Long, long ago my first scientific paper was published in Nature. I received congratulations from my peers and superiors because then gaining print space within the prestigious journal actually meant something. When your paper became a focus for a review by an acknowledged expert in the same journal you could believe you were on your way. No longer.

    Over the following decades you did your bit, first you spent time, unpaid, offering your opinions upon the value and validity of other people’s research. Then you were invited to be an editor, to administer part of the review system, to select reviewers and make decisions based upon the opinion’s of others (but employing your own judgement). You were proud to have contributed. No longer.

    I’m not ashamed of contributing, but somehow recent developments (primarily decisions to publish simply appalling papers that fly against every standard that formally applied) have degraded and tarnished that which I once held dear.

    Some time ago I read comments that the practices of climate science would harm the rest of science. I didn’t see the link. No longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Associated topic
    A new bunkbusting paper from Ioannidis also in Nature
    The study could help to flag potential extreme self-promoters, and possibly ‘citation farms’, in which clusters of scientists massively cite each other, say the researchers.
    “I think that self-citation farms are far more common than we believe,” says John Ioannidis



  23. Here’s another illustration of the quality or otherwise of Nature.

    This publication – something to do with cancer genes – appears to have some issues with image manipulation or duplication in the results of some ests known as western blots. The problem was first noted by Elizabeth Bik and is being discussed on the pubpeer system, where the corresponding author expresses shock at the news.

    On twitter, Nature responded to Bik’s tweet (which currently has over a thousand retweets), saying “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we are looking into it”. This is somewhat reminiscent of the comment added by the Nature editors at the end of the paper discussed in this blog post, saying that the “criticisms are being considered by the editors”. In both cases a cynic might wonder whether any real investigation is taking place, or if this is just bluffing to try to quell the criticism.


  24. I’ve updated this post again. The full data file, that was pulled very soon after the paper was published, has now been posted again, in a form that is supposedly anonymised – but isn’t. Since it contains all the media articles, it identifies the “contrarians”.


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