Bad Science

VV has a thoughtful post about the value of peer review, looked at mostly through the lens of a couple of recent poor papers. Peer review (or whatever system you choose for choosing which papers will see the light) has to balance weeding out dross with not suppressing the unusual but good. It is primarily intended to do this for scientists; its not so great at handling the recent (?) phenomenon of septics deliberately gaming journals in order to publish their drivel. But I think I care about that less than I used to. Probably the greatest problem it faces is the vast mass of publish-or-perish “meh” papers that are neither dross nor good, just mediocre. But until academics get judged by competent people based on quality not paper count, that won’t go away.

Sirocko et al.:Solar influence on winter severity in central Europe

Most of what you want to know about that is at Claim of solar influence is on thin ice: are 11-year cycle solar minima associated with severe winters in Europe? Although the idea itself isn’t totally wacky; Are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity? by Lockwood et al. comes to similar conclusions to Sirocko. Andy Extance (who he? I’m sure I know the name) doesn’t like it either.

[Update: Richard Telford; part of a series.]

GMO labelling

I liked KK channelling Ramez Naam on Why GMO Supporters Should Embrace Labels.

Climate and conflict

I’ve largely ignored this area. Perhaps What is the debate over climate and conflict about? is a good intro.

Climate sensitivity

Seems to becoming interesting again. JA has a post on a recent multi-author study that finds lower values that those from the good olde dayes when I paid attention. SS didn’t much like Lewis’s J. Clim. paper but those I’ve asked think it sane, and Lewis. Though it would be nice if he learnt not to associate too closely with the non-sane.

[Update: Da Plot Thickens. Such fun!


Pols in Dixie seem even more dysfunctional that anywhere else. BB senses some signs of hope in National Journal: The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change; but from a very low base.


Last month’s thrill was Marcott et al.; but a question I alluded to briefly was: “is he notable”? The answer is No or in more detail:

2013-05-16T00:16:42 Legoktm (talk | contribs) deleted page Shaun Marcott (Expired PROD, concern was: he is only postdoc with a nature publication)

which seems fair enough.


Blacklight retribution, rowing, work and the garden all mean I’m fairly busy now.


* Political failure modes and the beige dictatorship. Its not quite right, but I struggle to say what I mean in that area.
* Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown.
* mt also likes VV and adds a couple of nice extra points.
* Agnotology: learning from mistakes – Benestad et al..

Frolic and detour

It’s the law, it seems. And a suitable title for a misc post.

I’ve been busy, which accounts for my pathetic lack of posts recently.

* I ran the Brighton marathon (3:46).
* We entered the Town Bumps at Oxford, in IVs!
* I ran the Head of the Cam again.
* I’ve discovered that Yahoo and Flickr are fuckwits. Mind you, scienceblogs is unimpressing me at the moment with its more than glacial slowness.
* Some folks at work pointed out that my posts are incomprehensible. Such is life, but I do have a glossary. I just added CAGW, in case you were wondering what that was. The ScienceBlogs Great March onwards to the WordPress platform broke most of the old links. Sorry about that.

But enough about me. On with the misc.

Early Warning points out that global crop yields continue their inexorable rise; anyone claiming *current* crop disaster from GW needs to examine that pic carefully.

Richard Dawkins and God to star in 70s-style sitcom it seems:

“In the first episode, God manifests in a burning bush in the front garden and asks Mrs Dawkins in a booming voice if she needs anything from Asda. Richard comes out and she’s forced to invent an unlikely explanation involving a pack of confused Welsh nationalists and a political canvasser with a malfunctioning tannoy.

I’ve pretty well given up reading WUWT – it used to be fun, but it seems to me that the quality of rant has declined. Or maybe I’m just getting jaded. There have even been posts by the Looney Lord recently (see, I still read the snippets in the not-quite-late but lamented google reader). HotWhopper now does the job of reading the few that are interesting enough to be worth working out what is wrong with.

North Korea ‘may not be performance art’, say experts

python-spanish-inq A classic from the Daily Mash:

NORTH Korea is not an elaborate modern art installation, as previously suspected. As the tiny nation seemed to be genuinely threatening the United States with a nuclear strike, experts said it was now likely that Kim Jong Un and his late father are not ground-breaking surrealists in the mould of Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel and Anne Widdecombe.

Well, I liked it. Since I’m here: I haven’t written on the Lewandowsky stuff before (I just copied someone else, mainly because I liked the cartoon) but it seems to have been getting sillier. mt seems to have it about right.

Continuing with the misc: Tamino demonstrates almost convincingly that we would have seen a 20th-century-a-like spike, had their been such a spike, in the dim and distant past in the Marcott et al. proxy reconstruction. I don’t think its done quite right but its right enough to get the conclusion right. And, as usual, it exposes the idiots who assert the reverse based on no evidence at all.

And to end, I’ll slavishly copy mt by slavishly pointing to KK on nukes.


* Iran Kicks America In The Nuts
* (Black) cat’s entertainment
* History Licking Its Chops To Judge George W. Bush (h/t Eli)


The Daily Fail has been lying to the public again says says KK but he sneaks in a dig at the Grauniad on GMOs as he passes, for balance. QS notes that Myles Allen has a column in the Graun about the same (not the GMOs, obviously, you wouldn’t get that past the Graun) which seems bizarrely forgiving of David “I made it up” Rose. JA is caustic as ever.

In misc news, I’ve made my first foray into advice on how to row, and been climbing again. And running (pix).

Cyprus is a disaster area featuring enormous political stupidity for such a small country. That the finance minister flew off to Russia tells you a lot.

Retraction watch has a fun one about how “Unfortunately, due to the system of publishing fast, often and in high-impact factor journals, scientists are under greater pressure to produce quantity, at the expense of research quality” got pulled because a supervisor didn’t like it. Tut.

Meanwhile, “climategate3.0” remains totally invisible in the real world (and the google trends graph has now had time to catch up, and its still nothing). As of the date of writing, WUWT is still valiantly keeping it as a top sticky post, but no-one cares.

Update: and don’t miss the dramafest in the comments of Anthropological data point. Whodathunkit? The interview is worth reading too.

Driverless cars vs high speed rail

aadb Driverless cars are in the news recently (I won’t even bother linking to the various posts, there are so many) and Brian worries they might turn High Speed Rail into a dinosaur. Which indeed seems entirely likely.

My own view is that I love railways; going on holidays via sleeper and waking up as you’re going through an alpine pass is wonderful. Commuting in the things isn’t great, though it beats sitting in traffic queues. But where does the obsession with HSR come from? As CIP points out in Brian’s comments, they aren’t energy efficient – you might as well fly. They make great macho infrastructure projects for pols to posture with, and I’m sure there are wonderful discrete kick-backs in all that concrete pouring. And they’re great for making promises of regeneration of distant areas that can’t be falsified until too late. Aside: I was always disappointed that the channel tunnel went down the obsession-with-speed thing, when what I wanted them to do was run sleeper services to the continent so I didn’t have to change in Paris. Ah well.

As for driverless cars: if they do come, they’re bound to look very different from a car that drives itself. I’m going to want one with a bed in the back so I can wake up in that alpine pass again.


* Offsetting Climate Change by Engineering Air Pollution to Brighten Clouds.
* An Examination of the Interaction between Two Prospective Transport Technologies: Questioning the Importance of High Speed Rail in a Driverless Vehicle Society – Ryan J. Westrom; Candidate, Master of Science in Transportation 2014; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (that link, to my website, is just me hosting a copy of his poster).
* Timmy in 2014.