Science ethics: Ten biggest science paper retractions of 2010

January 18, 2011

Science uses a tough system to correct errors and prevent frauds.  Peer-review makes it difficult to get a paper into a journal, period, let alone one with hoaxed-up data or conclusions.  Still, out of the tens of thousands of serious science papers published each year, a few sneak through that shouldn’t, sometimes due to researcher error, sometimes due mix-ups in peer review, sometimes — rarely — due to outright fraud.

In the past 15 months political action to fight global warming took huge hits around December 2009 when a few thousand e-mails were hacked from computers at the Hadley Climate Research Unit in England, one of the leading groups in climate research that indicates a warming Earth.   Critics of Hadley made great hay about how the alleged wrong-doing in the e-mails meant that all climate research was wrong, or at least questionable.

So, I was greatly interested to stumble across this article in The Scientist, which lists what that magazine calls the “Top Retractions of 2010” — papers retracted for errors and ethical reasons.

None of the top retractions had anything to do with climate research.  One of the most under-reported stories of 2010 was that the claims of error and fraud by climate scientists were, themselves, hoaxes.  Looking at the list of top retractions, unless you were really looking for the climate papers, you might never notice.

Most of the retractions were in medicine and health.  Several were in cancer research.  False science in climate studies does not appear to be a major problem, measured by retractions.

Those who accuse climate scientists falsely don’t really have anything to retract in a formal sense.  They did no science work that was published.

When do people wake up and realize that global warming is a real problem, and we shouldn’t be fooled by political smears of the scientists who discover the data?


But the Earth still warms

January 18, 2011

Political activists who oppose working to stop or slow greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow global warming find themselves in awkward positions recently.

Before, during and after the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009 they predicted that warming had stopped, and that we are entering a period of global cooling.  Alas for their claim, the planet refuses to cool.  The decade ending in 2009 was the warmest in human history; 2010 itself turned out to be one of the warmest years in history, worldwide.

NOAA graphic: Indicators of global warming: “Seven of these indicators would be expected to increase in a warming world, and observations show that they are, in fact, increasing. Three would be expected to decrease and they are, in fact, decreasing.”

Somebody stole hundreds of e-mails from one of the climate research clusters in England, and the anti-action activists claimed that the messages would reveal wrong-doing on the part of scientists, perhaps even criminal action.  Instead, five separate investigations discovered no wrong-doing on the parts of scientists, but a lot of hard work gone for too little action because of the anti-science shenanigans of the anti-action crew.  The science showing global warming remains untouched, with no significant body of research showing contrary.

One of the loudest voices against claims of global warming, Christopher Monckton, was unmasked as a blowhard and a fraud.    Scientists organized to refute the hoax claims of the anti-action activists.

So, the anti-action activists are sore.  They don’t take criticism well, and they especially don’t like anyone who points out their errors.

Sadly, they didn’t learn from the their past hoaxes.  So if even a lowly high school teacher should point out an error of history, they resort to making false claims and censorship against the teacher.  They have no data to back their case, nothing but invective to rebut with.

And so it was that a rather new site, hauntingthelibrary, took my comment noting where they could find the data to disabuse their wild claims, stripped it out, and substituted words I did not and would not write.

Fraud again, this time from hauntingthelibraryHoaxFraud even in small things.

The movement against the science of global warming is rotten to its core.  (Seriously — most sites would be happy to note the pingback from this blog; the blogger had to act to block the pingback from showing up.  What are they so afraid of?)

Legend says that Galileo, backing out of the audience with the Pope in which he was put under house arrest after having “recanted” any claim that the Earth orbits the Sun, said quietly, “Still, it moves.”  Even the Pope’s powers through the Inquisition could not stop the Earth orbiting the Sun.  No matter how powerful the denial propaganda machines, no matter how many anti-science bloggers they recruit, the Earth keeps on stubbornly warming up.

Or, as Galileo might have said, “Eppure, lei si scalda!”

_____________

Update: Then there is Anti-Gore Effect Sillies Syndrome — claiming Gore erred, when he didn’t.  It’s demonstrated with the infection fully affecting the judgment of its victims at this odd place, XD Talk Forums.

 

More:

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Photo by W. W. MacFarlane - Pine bark beetle damage in Teton National Forest

Photo by W. W. MacFarlane – NPR caption: “Many dead trees appear gray and red on the high-mountain slopes of Union Pass Bridger in Teton National Forest in Wyoming”


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