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Med Journals Adopt New Disclosure Rules

Editors at leading medical journals have agreed to adopt a new standard conflict of interest disclosure form that probes deep into the financial and nonfinancial interests of published authors”. That’s the start of a blog titled “Med journals adopt disclosure rules” signed “Bob Grant” at The Scientist, based on a news item on The Wall Street Journal.

The journals involved are “The Lancet, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The British Medical Journal”.

Alongside what should be by now standard disclosure fare “information regarding financial relationships — such as board membership, consultancy, expert testimony, honoraria and stock options — and potentially conflicting financial relationships among spouses and children under age 18”, authors are going to be asked about “’relevant nonfinancial associations’, such as political, personal, institutional, or religious affiliations that ‘a reasonable reader would want to know about in relation to the submitted work.’” (those disclosures are between author and editors, not necessarily to be made public in full. And still…).

There are already calls to extend the new rules to peer reviewers and editors.

The disclosure form was “drafted by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)” and follows an initiative by the “Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)”, one of whose project is aptly titled “Integrity in Science”.

More details about that initiative are available in another Bob Grant blog, “Unifying journal disclosure rules” dated July 17, 2008.

At the time, the CSPI urged “full disclosure of potentially compromising financial relationships held by authors up to three years prior to submitting a manuscript. Financial conflicts include direct employment or consultancies with private firms, travel grants or speaking fees, paid expert testimony, membership on advisory boards, pending or existing patents, and stock ownership

On the non-financial side, disclosure should include “membership in NGOs that may have a stake in a particular manuscript’s publication”.

Authors of the CSPI document, “Merrill Goozner (Director of CSPI’s Integrity in Science program), […] University of Pennsylvania bioethicists Arthur Caplan and Jonathan Moreno and the editors of three journals – the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Addiction, and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons”.

Other groups involved were the “Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a consortium of journal editors that seek to address issues of scientific integrity in science publication”. COPE “counts all Elsevier journals as members”.


Will journals in other specialty areas follow? What is the opinion by COPE and CSPI about recent and past scandals in Climate Science?

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Peradventure There Shall One Be Found There – Open Letter To The Royal Society

(a guest “blog” by Rupert Wyndham; publication authorised by the author)

Lord Rees
The Royal Society

14 October 2009

Dear Lord Rees

Re: Briffa, Schweingruber and the Yamal tree ring data

With some surprise, it must be said, I find myself acknowledging that, within The Royal Society, there exists one individual at least who appears to be motivated by scrupulousness and a desire to work in and for the best interests of the scientific endeavour. Naturally, the identification of this honourable man does not lead to your door nor to the paths of those of your immediate predecessors, May and Houghton. King too, if he’s been a President of the RS, but that he has not, I think – well, not yet anyway.

So, who then is this rarest of paragons within the cloistered precincts of Carlton House Terrace? Is it some great and eminent scientific Titan, invested with honours and burdened with doubloons diverted in his direction by Alfred Nobel’s august and wondrous awarding committees? Nay, nay – to be sure, nothing of the sort! Rather, instead, he (or, perhaps, she) is simply an honest functionary, a self-effacing soul who, after a conscientious day’s toil, unremarked and unsung, returns of an evening to a favourite armchair in the modest but homely comfort of his bungalow in Surbiton – or would it be Penge? But anyway, but anyway – whatever his name, in the annals of authentic science, in a zeitgeist dominated and polluted by a fraudulent, self-serving counterfeit of itself, he stands out as a true blue, heart warming, life affirming paladin, does he not………in the setting of the RS, a pitch perfect, solitary clarion voice of honesty sounding clear and high above a cacophony of knaves and poltroons?

The hero in question is the Editor of the Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, of course. And what has he done to merit such an accolade? Well, to be sure, you know as well as I, that he has stood up for, and insisted upon, observance of the time honoured protocols of scientific method – the very precepts that you personally, as well as those who work closest to you, are charged to defend. That you have signally failed to do so is the indelible stain on your own personal honour (theirs too, of course) – an old fashioned concept, but one still with some value, however, as scoundrels on the green benches in the Palace of Westminster are currently discovering to their fully warranted discomfiture.

What this excellent and worthy man has done has been to insist upon publication of the Yamal Peninsular data, hitherto denied for a decade to the wider scientific community – needless to say, contrary to one of the most basic protocols of honest scientific investigation. This has blown apart the much vaunted clutch of “hockey stick” graphs supposedly marshalled by AGW proselytisers such as yourself in support of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes fraud – heavily promoted, of course, by the Yankee snake oil salesman. At the time of writing this, it is even just possible that the RS’s counterpart lapdog at Broadcasting House has finally realised that the entire AGW construct is, scientifically speaking, no more than a monstrous inverted pyramid of dross erected on the crest of a sand dune. Mind you, where the BBC is concerned, it is prudent never to be optimistic!

In the words of the old love song, the salient question for you, of course, is:

“Where have you been all this day, my boy Billy?
Where have you been all this day?
Is it here? Is it there?
Pray tell me, is it – – anywhere?”

Yours sincerely

R.C.E. Wyndham

Cc: Prime Minister Ed Miliband MP David Cameron MP Nick Clegg MP Julia Goldsworthy MP
Lord Lawson Lord Leach Mark Thompson Sir Michael Lyons Editors – national newspapers
As the spirit moves

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It's All CO2! It's All AGW!

There is a beautiful discussion going about “Hockey Stick Redux” (HSR), the Oct 1 entry of brand-new blog “Cruel Mistress – Being Human on a Harsh Planet” by Dr Ben Hale (I reached it by following Roger Pielke Jr.’s recommendation to visit “Cruel Mistress).

And that’s a great blog name, by the way…finally somebody recognizes how Earth is not made of fragile crystals and china…

Anyway…the beauty of the discussion is three-fold.

(1) Ben Hale is no AGW skeptic, and yet he has not imposed any censorship, whimsical or otherwise (by the way: let’s welcome Ben to the Joe Romm (dis-)Appreciation Society! – with Romm now openly toying with Fascist character-assassination techniques).

(2) For the time being, HSR is a place where AGW believers and skeptics can exchange disagreements rather than outright insults. One suspects, that is because of the absence of the “usual suspects”, the clique of self-appointed AGW True Believers, the Osama bin Climate‘s fond of censorship and coprolalia

(3) The HSR comment area is the best place where to see AGW skepticism at work, with plenty of nuances, disagreements, sentences at the opposite ends of some scales on the part of people that only agree that the AGW brouhaha is a wild overstatement. If that doesn’t disprove the cretin label of “Denialists”, I don’t know what will.

There are plenty of gems among the HSR comments (also some funny ones I have already written about). For example there is a great explanation by a PhysicsGuy (Oct 3, 10:31am) of what peer-review is and is not, and how it all went wrong regarding AGW, ending with the following:

To summarize, a pro-AGW paper being peer reviewed by other climate scientists is probably (like Briffa appears to have been) being considered favorably because of its results, is being reviewed by reviewers who know and often have co-authored with the paper’s writer, likely contains undisclosed data treatment that influences the result, is being reviewed by reviewers who do not have the mathematical background to spot subtle statistical errors, and is being judged on “conformity to accepted practices in the discipline” in a discipline that is evolving so quickly that the “accepted practices” themselves are not well validated.

I’m not sure that this kind of peer review means what many of us appear to think it does.

And now for one of my own little contributions. I have had an exchange with Ben Hale about my use of the slogan “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW” as the defining one for the current scientific consensus/dogma on AGW.

Ben replied:

Are reputable people actually saying this? Even with my basic and flawed understanding of AGW, this is expressly not what people are saying. I call straw man.

That led me to elaborate more on the topic (see here and here and here). I am putting it all together below.


The overwhelming importance in contemporary mainstream climatology of CO2/GHG warming, and of the human contribution to it, can be read in a Jan 27, 2005 blog (“What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?” by stefan) on Real Climate:

The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.
(1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.
(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.

The key words are main, concern, anthropogenic climate change, due to human activity. That is, RealClimate and (by simple logical extension) the scientific consensus on Climate Change, are concerned because human activities are increasing ghg’s (and especially, CO2) in the atmosphere.

What was the IPCC established for, after all, if not to investigate the warming effects of CO2/GHGs emissions from human activities? Here’s from the FAR (1990) as per Wikipedia:

…emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, CFCs and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface…

The key words there are human activities, increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, additional warming.

Hence: “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!”…a slogan that has all the defects of a slogan (e.g. simplification), and yet conveys the two most important aspects of the AGW scare and dogma. “Most important” by a long shot.

Let’s look at how long a shot, from a purely logical point of view. What would happen if human activities would not be emitting CO2/GHGs? There would be no IPCC. What would happen had it been thought there were no AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming? There would be no IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are necessary conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

What would happen if the only driver for climate change were human emissions of CO2/GHGs? There would still be an IPCC. What would happen if the only climate phenomenon of note were AGW? There would still be an IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are sufficient conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

Therefore, since CO2/GHG emissions and AGW are (together) necessary and sufficient for the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus to exist, the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus are for all intents and purposes exclusively dedicated to CO2/GHG emissions and AGW.

“It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW”. QED.


That’s why, as remarked by another commenter “MrPete”, the “primary policy push” is about GHGs, and in particular about CO2.

In a saner world, in fact, we would have gone a long way already to eliminate that other, and shall I say even more established source of climate change and untold numbers of respiratory diseases and deaths, namely soot. And especially the soot generated by primitive cooking stoves.

It is one of the biggest tragedies of the AGW consensus: we could have in a month a 10-year worldwide plan to physically eliminate all human emissions of soot at a relatively minor cost…look instead how many person-years are being wasted for a Copenhagen deal that everybody well knows it will be ineffectual and costly at best.

But what can we do? After all…It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!

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Stop Press: AGW Believer Stumbles, Accuses Briffa Of Unethical Behavior, Threatens AGW Edifice

Barrel-scraping (and worse: outright unintentional humor): this is what happens when one wants to defend an untenable position.

And this is what happened to wannabe Briffa Defender, Eli Rabett (apparently of some fame in the blogging circuit), trying his best Musketeer of the Guard impersonation in the “Hockey Stick Redux” comments at Ben Hale’s blog (more about that blog later).

Trouble is, Rabett ended up (unwittingly) accusing Briffa of dishonesty, and (one suspects, even more unwittingly) threatening single-handledly to destroy much of the AGW edifice.

Time wiil tell if Briffa and AGW can survive Eli Rabett’s friendly fire…


Here’s how it started

Mr Rabett tried to defend Briffa with “a few basic questions, including “the “data” the tree ring samples, belongs to the Russians. True or false” and “If [the previous statement] is true, the Russians are the ones to approach for the “data”. True or false“.

Alas, and of course, Rabett forgot to ask an even more basic question, that is if Briffa had indeed refused for years to release the data related to his articles published in journals whose stated policy is that all data related to all published articles should be released. What was Briffa thinking when he submitted articles to those journals, one wonders.

Furthermore, as pointed out by another commenter, MrPete, if a data set cannot be shared, that pretty much invalidates all articles based on that data set and published in journals whose policy is for data to be shared. Given the popularity of Briffa’s work, one can only imagine what very public slaughter of AGW articles Rabett’s idea would entail.

Reminded of, but still in complete denial of such fundamental points, Eli Rabett came back with a vengeance: “It looks more and more that the data was the Russian tree ring information which belonged to the Russians and which they had published on previously. Data shared by it’s owners cannot be ethically given to a third party by the people it was given to.

(my emphasis)

How can one read the above but as an (unwitting) accusation by AGW believer Eli Rabett that Briffa’s sharing of the data has been…unethical?

If all other Briffa supporters are like Rabett (and, in some sense, Schmidt), then it’s going to be a long and hard way indeed for the CRU scientist

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About Yamal

Non-casual readers already know I do not like to dwell into topics covered in great depth elsewhere. I will make a very short exception to that “policy”, simply because the McIntyre/Briffa story is too big.

Too big, that is, not to warrant some huge dose of skepticism before getting carried away with it.

We have a saying in Italian, “if they’re roses, they’ll bloom”. AKA “time will tell”.

As much as I admire McIntyre’s relentless quest to go always back to the original data, I am sure I am not the first one that has seen apparently-straight forward things turn around all of a sudden. There’s no reason to celebrate… if the Briffa reconstruction will implode, it will implode anyway.

Now we have a blog on the topic, by Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate, and a brief note by Briffa himself.

Gavin is his usual self, the worst enemy of AGW that is, with a blog post choked by its own sarcasm. Through the deep, rather undignified fog, one can get a glimpse of what appears to be a potentially strong riposte to Steve McIntyre (but with Schmidt’s emotions running so raw, I am afraid McIntyre will always have the upper hand).

Briffa is very calm and measured, therefore making his decision not to share the data sooner even more puzzling

Right now, it looks like there will be a “war of words” with claims and counterclaims. On that, I have no interest whatsoever. And too many people already are “jumping in” in ways that can only dent their credibility.

I might come back to the story after the battle. For now, this is my comment at RC:

Kudos to Briffa for having decided to “review the details of [McIntyre’s] work”.

Is it too much to state that most of what has happened, would not have happened had the data been made available upon (first) request?

On that topic, I believe that NASA changed its policy regarding space probes a decade ago or more, in order to avoid (crackpot) accusations of being in the business of airbrushing aliens out of the photos. That is why mission websites like MER’s _prominently_ show the just-received “raw images”, especially in the first days of the mission (please correct me if I am wrong).

Wouldn’t it therefore make sense to apply the same rules to all just-published papers, i.e. presenting the “raw data” to the visitor, rather than simply leaving it “available for anyone who cares to look”? Especially in a field such as climate change, where any accusation/finding is bound to elicit plenty of reaction.