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February 02, 2007 01:41 AM UTC

Since I can't address everyone who pummeled me yesterday...

  • 2 Comments
  • by: eddys

this blib is from James Taranto (editorialist for WSJ) who muses about the methodlogy of one of the reports Waxman used in his hearings…

They Call This Science?
Rep. Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “took on the Bush administration’s handling of climate change science” in a Tuesday hearing, the New York Times reports:

The fourth witness was Francesca Grifo, who directs the scientific integrity program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private group that researches environmental, arms control and other issues.

Dr. Grifo’s testimony drew largely from a report produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Government Accountability Project, a private group that defends whistle-blowers. The report, made public yesterday, is based on a Union of Concerned Scientists survey of federal climate scientists and interviews and document searches by the Government Accountability Project. It says it is common for scientists to be pressured to eliminate references to climate change, for their work to be changed to misrepresent their findings, and for climate-related materials to disappear from Web sites.

Almost 60 percent of the scientists who responded to the survey said they had personally experienced such an incident in the last five years, the report says, and those who said their work was most closely related to climate change experienced the most interference.

The survey is here (PDF), and a closer look at it ought to raise some doubts.

The relevant questions, 19-33, appear on pages 4-5. Questions 19-30 list 12 “types of activities affecting climate science” and ask the respondent if he has “perceived in others and/or personally experienced” them. (Question 31, a catch-all “other” category, can be ignored, since few bothered even responding to it.)

One problem is that of these 12 questions, only three–Nos. 20, 24 and 25–clearly indicate that the scientist responding agrees with the Union of Concerned Scientists on climate issues. A scientist who reports “self-induced pressure to change research or reporting in order to align findings with agency policy or to avoid controversy” (No. 23), for example, could feel such pressure to avoid raising doubts about global warming.

Note, too, the wording of that question: “self-induced pressure.” The scientists who answered “yes” to this question are reporting on their own state of mind, not any objective facts that may bear on it. The same is true of questions 24 and 25, which refer to “fear of retaliation,” and 27, which refers to “implicit expectation.”

Many of these questions, too, simply reflect the realities of working in any bureaucracy, public or private. No. 19 asks if the scientists have perceived of experienced “changes/edits during review that change the meaning of scientific findings.” Some have, but we have no basis on which to judge the merits of the disagreements between the scientists and their editors.

The biggest problem with the survey, though, is its basic methodology, explained on the first page of the PDF:
Following is the text of the survey UCS mailed to 1,630 federal climate scientists at seven federal agencies and departments, along with response data for the 279 scientists who completed and re- turned surveys.

That is, only about 17% of the scientists who received the survey actually filled it out and returned it. There is no reason to think this is a representative sample of the total population, and it seems reasonable to surmise that people who would go to the trouble of completing such a survey are more likely than those who wouldn’t to perceive themselves as under political pressure–i.e., to agree with the UCS.

To put it much more simply, this was an unscientific survey. If this is how these guys do social science, how can we trust them with the hard stuff?

… this goes to my larger point that academia is not infallible.  And, just like righties are accused of, the left is equally prone to group think, which is endemic in our public universities, particularly of the left leaning prevailing persuasion…of that there is little dispute. So, it does not take much to extrapolate that if the universities promote monolithic thought en mass then the research may have methodological errors as well…?  Sorry, if all you lefties will throw such sardonic terms as “corporate greed” “right-wing” then turn about is fair game and the universities are rife with left wing propagandists…not to mention thought police.

Comments

2 thoughts on “Since I can’t address everyone who pummeled me yesterday…

    1. they’ll be propagated as gospel to illustrate just how evil the GW presidency is…amazing, then they won’t even acknowledge that there might be some truth to methodological error and bias from global warming theorists…the arrogance, conceit and hypocrisy of the left knows no bounds!

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