Clamping down on science communication

salingerThe sacking of NIWA scientist Jim Salinger has been getting wide coverage in New Zealand (see Niwa sacks Jim Salinger; Niwa sacks top scientist; Niwa sacks top scientist; and Face of NIWA sacked for talking to media). It was also  noticed overseas (see eg.,  Permission to Speak, Sir?! Top NZ climate scientist is fired, for not asking!Top New Zealand climate scientist sacked for talking to media; and  Pharyngula: News from the other side of the world).

See also Hot Topic, Sound of silence, for a local comment on the sacking.

All round, it makes New Zealand’s Crown research Institutes look silly and bureaucratic.

I hope the employment court can resolve this “employment dispute” in the interests of good science in this country.

However, I think this case does demonstrate a real problem faced by scientists working in New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes – and probably similar institutes and corporations worldwide. That is controls on the ability of scientists to communicate their findings. And to communicate with the public – who after all are the final “consumers” of the science and fund their research.

Science communication urgent

This is relevant because there has never been more urgency for such communication. Science and technology are intimately involved in today’s economies and societies. Responsible democratic activity today requires an improvement in the scientific literacy of the population. And scientists must communicate with the public to help fight the promotion anti-science attitudes. This promotion often has big financial backing and is actively encouraged by some of our social institutions (e.g., a section of the religious establishment). Restriction on the ability of scientists to communicate often gives these people a free reign.

Wouldn’t it be nice of many New Zealand scientists had blogs similar to those of PZ Myers (Pharyngula) and Jerry Coyne ( Why evolution is true). But just imagine how the bureaucrats in the Crown Research Institutes would react to this. Every post would require prior bureaucratic approval by “communication officers.” Many would not be allowed.

And let’s face it, these “communication officers” would step in and order the blogs be closed down. And they would have the support of the institute’s managers and board who are terrified of public reaction and legal pressures. The last thing they are concerned about is the true communication of science.

Political and legal pressures

In my own time I experienced a complaint to my institute about news report of a statement of mine made as a member of a peace group (The complainant was the local National Member of Parliament and my director was left rather confused about the whole issue). Our research group was several times ordered not to publish, or make public statements about, our research findings on the efficacy of a fertiliser (our institute was threatened with legal action by a supplier). Eight years ago our “communication officer” ordered a colleague and me to close down web sites we had set up to describe our science, while the Institute’s web site was doing nothing along those lines. And there was the constant commercial vetting of submitted papers, and withdrawal from publication if there was a slight possibility that the findings could be patented or commercialised.

On the one had it is shocking that political and commercial pressure can be exerted in this manner. But it is even worse that managers and other bureaucrats don’t resist this pressure. Instead they treat their scientific staff as the source of such problems.

There can be a real cultural disconnect in these institutes between the scientific staff and their managers who often don’t have a science background, or have left it behind as part of their transition to management. Commercialisation of science has also led to the importation of a foreign commercial culture. All this produces a weird type of bureaucracy which is probably unique to modern scientific institutes.

Let’s hope Jim Salinger’s “day in court” will expose some of this and that he gets a favourable decision.

Permalink

Similar Articles

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

52 responses to “Clamping down on science communication

  1. There must be more to the story eh? Surely someone of such long standing wouldn’t get the sack merely for talking to the media on uncontroversial topics like this?

    Like you, I’ll be watching this with interest over the coming months.

    Like

  2. Damian,

    I’ve seen comments to the effect that the new government has installed new middle-management and some of these newcomers are a little over zealous. Goodness knows if this is true, but it does make you wonder if some new manager needs a swift clip around the back of the head. Oh, that’s right, we’re not supposed to be smacking any more…

    Ken,

    Wouldn’t it be nice of many New Zealand scientists had blogs similar to those of PZ Myers

    One of these days, one of these days… I have too much on my plate at the moment, but as an independent scientist, no-one could tell me what to, or not to, post 🙂 Seriously, anything I did would be a milder affair than PZ’s effort.

    Like

  3. I think that there is a great need for scientists to become involved in blogging in a way that they can present the facts in an easily-digestible way without getting embroiled in debates with religious people, conspiracy theorists or advocates of pseudoscience.

    When I was examining my own beliefs (not that I’ve stopped!!) I found the most beneficial sources of information were those that simply stated their case. Carl Sagan’s books were, figuratively, a Godsend.

    I don’t like PZ Myers’ style too much because it gives too much attention to a vocal minority of religious idiots. But I love it when he presents a sciency article on autocatalytic processes for example.

    Heraclides, people like you are needed in the blogosphere but I personally don’t feel the confrontational stance really achieves anything other than the elation of battle. In fact, I’d argue that when a scientist descends into debate with someone who’s anti-science it almost makes it seem to the outsider as if the other guy must have a valid point.

    You should get your own blog; I’d love to learn snippets of what you know.

    Like

  4. Well firstly, Dr Salinger is not a Nobel Prize winning scientist. He shared the prize with 27 others so is only a part winner. If every employee was allowed to speak out of turn to every media there would be no more commercial integrity, no more value in IP. No market competition would be viable. I asked my boss what his attitude would have been and he went even further, saying it would look like a takeover. Dr Salinger obviously thinks he is or should be NIWA. He’s not. As for stacking boxes of his 30 years worth of acquired data in his garage as shown on TV, doesn’t all that belong to the tax-payer? If I am fired from my role in my company I am not entitled to remove all of our records. For this alone he should have been sacked.

    Like

  5. Er, Tommy, I don’t think I raised any issue about the Nobel prize.

    However, you clearly think Jim Salinger was deservedly sacked. Do you know something we don’t? What was Salinger’s specific “crime.”? I find it hard to imagine that commercial integrity was involved at all.

    And really, in the absence of evidence I don’t buy your comment “Dr Salinger obviously thinks he is or should be NIWA” – sounds too much like someone has a personal issue.

    It just seems to me far more likely the bureaucratic jealousy or power issues are involved. From experience I know the cultural divides that are common in the Crown Research Institutes – and how much some bureaucrats actually resent the scientific staff.

    I suggest the fact that Salinger was storing his own material from his job indicates that no sensitive issues or commercial integrity was involved because he would not have been allowed to remove his material if it had.

    So I am at a loss to see how the NIWA hierarchy can justify their position – but hopefully it will all come out at the employment court.

    Like

  6. No, the thing about the Nobel peace Prize is that a lot of lammenting about his sacking describes him as an internationally lauded scientist, whwereas there are many who find his outdated views quite unrepresentative of current climate science. If I make three public statements without gaining clearance it would suggest I was the head of the company. I have no personal issue, in fact if he is reading this my sympathies to him as to anyone else who feels he has been wronglfully dismissed. But man, he had a good run, 30 years. I personally think he may have imagined he had a line to the metservice which is not in his NIWA job description, and accordingly he tried to advise Jim Hickey. The metservice and NIWA haven’t gotten on that well in recent years. More to it than meets the eye, for sure.

    Like

  7. Tommy – “there are many who find his outdated views quite unrepresentative of current climate science.”
    Could you be more specific?

    Who, specifically, finds his “views” outdated?
    What, specifically, are those outdated views?

    I hope you can appreciate that I am trying to get below rumours and put-downs to find out what the real issues are.

    “But man, he had a good run, 30 years.” – As someone who was employed 40 years in scientific research I find that statement rather agist. Personally, I think that older scientists often still have very good ideas – and they have the advantage of a more mature and reflective attitude. Yes, I know that goes counter to “perceived wisdom” but that’s my experience. Anyway – I wasn’t sacked just for getting older!

    Anyway – there does not seem to be any suggestion that the sacking issue had anything to do with his scientific work or ability (or age), or with the perennial funding issues.

    I have not yet heard any suggestion that his work was in any way sub-standard.

    It still sounds like bureaucratic jealousy to me (although I guess professional jealousy is a possibility).

    Like

  8. I don’t know where you’ve been, but you’ll find a large number of farmers think of NIWA as a joke. Salinger has quite singlehandedly achieved this reputation. I call that substandard work because his long range predictions are nearly always incorrect. As for Salinger’s global warming views, they have been roundly discarded by the Climate Science Coalition which seems to be made up of some NZ top scientists.

    Like

  9. Getting back to the original article, the CRIs have an uncomfortable mix of objectives, at least to my limited understanding. Having a history of once being the DSIR, government “advisory and research” institutes, asked to retain some aspects of that, deliver “public good” science and also return a profit based on a set time-line does seem all a bit much to me.

    On another note, it’s interesting watching AgResearch spin off companies, whilst making many ties to universities and more recently purchasing Lincoln University (formerly Lincoln College, University of Canterbury). I have to admit I’m a bit wary of them, as they hold a lot of power ($$) in many ways and I’m not yet convinced that the “deals” will ultimately be the best for everyone.

    Like

  10. Tommy @ April 29, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    You still aren’t being specific. And I can now see where you are coming form. The Climate Science Coalition represent those who attempt to discredit the science behind the current scientific assessment of climate change. Consequently I expect them to be critical of scientists who have been involved in making that assessment.

    However, surely it would be more honest to deal with the scientific issues than to make vague disparaging personal comments about individual scientists.

    If, in fact, Salinger’s work on climate science change has led to his sacking that would be sad indeed – equivalent to what ex-President Bush got up to the the US. Hopefully that won’t happen here.

    Like

  11. Yes, Heraclides, I actually worked for AgResearch so saw things from the “inside” as it were. I think many of the commercial changes were just silly (and some were reversed or just abandoned). However, I find the AgResearch-Lincoln link interesting. I wonder what the effect will be on current AgResearch science staff. Will we possibly see more involvement in teaching?

    Like

  12. A CRI scientist blog? It’ll never happen… D’oh!

    Like

  13. Perhaps you are a brave man, Daniel! Unfortunately CRI scientist blogs are, as yet, few and far between. I would be interested to hear what feedback you get from colleagues.

    Like

  14. …Climate Science Coalition which seems to be made up of some NZ top scientists.

    Golly, the Climate Science Coalition!
    Not THE Climate Science Coalition!!!
    That sounds so sciencey.
    Do they really have some of of NZ top scientists?
    Wow.
    That sounds so very impressive.
    However, when somebody actually looks at what the “Climate Science Coaliton” actually is…then it becomes much less impressive.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Climate_Science_Coalition

    Global warming denialism is a joke.
    If Jim Salinger stands agains them, then he is in good company.
    Every single international scientific community is on board with global warming. If the “Climate Science Coalition” has anything scientific to say, then let them present any research they do in the scientific arena. Otherwise they’re just nay-sayers uselessly flapping their gums.
    Work, not chatter.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

    Like

  15. “Every single international scientific community is on board with global warming.”
    Really? What a sad day for science then, which used to deal with null hypothese and skepticism, until proper evidence presented. Can you point to a sea that is irrefutably rising or a warming trend that is beyond natural fluctuation? If you can’t then this is no longer a science discussion. Go over to alt. religion.

    Like

  16. Well, Tommy, you have discarded the veil used in your comments on Jim Salinger’s sacking, haven’t you. I think they have been exposed as not objective.

    There is plenty of published material on climate change which indicates global warming most likely caused by anthropogenic inputs.

    I have written about it in several posts: Climate change: the science – public disconnect; Climate change optimism; Spreading doubt on climate change; Climate change and New Zealand; Global warming misrepresentations (unfortunately the link to the figure here is broken); Prostituting science; Climate change controversy; Slandering science.

    Now, those are contributions to a science discussion. And, clearly the IPCC material is also.

    Your vague aspersions (and look at how you manoeuvred around the issue of Salinger’s sacking) are not.

    I, of course welcome any rational discussion of the scientific issues I have raised in my articles. But, please, nothing along the lines of “the Climate Science Coalition which seems to be made up of some NZ top scientists.

    I am not that gullible.

    Incidentally, you aren’t a creationist are you? Do you accept evolutionary science?

    Like

  17. Really?

    Yes, really.
    Why didn’t you know that? Search for an international body of scientists that denies global warming. You won’t find one.

    Can you point to a…
    Me? I’m just some guy on the Internet. I’m not pretending to be a climate scientist. Doesn’t really matter what I can or cannot point to.
    (shrug)
    However, if you read what the scientific community says, you will find that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming.
    They have done the science; not me.
    I just read about it.

    Unlike you, I don’t get my science from some no-name group of contrarians or some editorial in a newspaper.
    I get my climate science from people who actually are qualified to talk about climate.
    They are called….(wait for it)….climatologists.
    They are supported by every branch of the physical sciences. That includes chemistry, physics, oceanography etc.
    They hang out at places like NASA.
    Have you heard of NASA? They are very smart people. They have access to the most powerful computers and satellites and research materials in the world. Check out their web-site.
    They seem very sure that global warming is real.
    The NAS, the APS, NASA, the Royal Meteorological Society etc. are all unanimous that global warming is happening.
    Here’s a link to some vidoes that the RMS put out to educate the public on global warming.
    Watch them.
    Learn.
    http://www.rmets.org/video/talking-heads/rmets.html

    Ken said…
    Incidentally, you aren’t a creationist are you? Do you accept evolutionary science?

    Most global warming deniers are creationists.
    If you can reject science on one subject then it’s easy to reject science on another subject.
    So tell us, Tommy.
    Do you accept evolutionary science?
    🙂

    Like

  18. Absolutely not a creationist. Ye gods. I’m a commonsense person who like to see proof or evidence before I blindly believe stuff that people tell me who want my tax dollars for their stupid research games. I called for evidence here. All I got was ranting about how scientists have said this or that so it must be true. That’s not evidence. So, evidence?

    Like

  19. Absolutely not a creationist.

    Good to hear.

    I’m a commonsense person who like to see proof or evidence…

    Then…what’s the deal with you blindly accepting what the “Climate Science Coalition” says?
    They don’t do any research.
    They don’t do any of the hard work that science demands.
    They are not climate scientists.
    Why should you care what they have to say in a newspaper on in a coffee table book?

    Are you bedazzled by their PHds or their sciencey sounding talk…or is it that they tell you what you want to hear?

    I called for evidence here.

    The scientific community has been working on the scientific evidence for decades.
    The papers have been written.
    The expeditions to the Arctic and Greenland have been done.
    The satellites have been launched.
    The consensus has been built.

    Denying global warming is like denying any other science subject.

    …my tax dollars for their stupid research games.

    How do you know that they are “games” or that they are “stupid”?

    What do you know that NASA and the RMS don’t?
    How much do you understand about the history of the gathering of the science of global warming?
    It’s not a conspiracy.
    The world’s scientists are not out to get you.

    Here’s a university standard lecture on global warming.
    It will tell you about the work of the scientists that discovered the problem and how they tried to warn the public.
    It will also give you the history behind the “think tanks” that tried to confuse the public, in much the same way as they tried to confuse the public about tobacco smoking.

    The American Denial of Global Warming

    Watch it and then tell me what you think.

    Like

  20. I think you still have no evidence, just ranting. When you have calmed down, describe one place that has been warming due to Man and how this can be proven to not be part of a natural cycle. Then explain how we have had massive cooling periods and Ice Ages at the same time as higher CO2 levels than today.
    The papers have been written. Oh, the papers. Well that proves it I suppose.
    The expeditions to the Arctic and Greenland have been done. And shown that ice is increasing. Even if Greenland melted, it is sitting in a bowl and would not change the sealevels.
    The satellites have been launched. And NOAA figures show no warming beyond 1deg every 300 years.
    The consensus has been built. So what? There would be 100% consensus amongst Creationists also. That doesn’t mean they are correct.

    Like

  21. I think you still have no evidence, just ranting.

    Huh? As I said before, I’m just a guy on the internet. I don’t produce the evidence.
    The scientists do that.
    Then they tell the rest of us about what’s going on.

    …describe one place that has been warming due to Man and how this can be proven to not be part of a natural cycle.

    One place? What are you talking about?
    That’s as silly as saying that there’s no such thing as transitional fossils.

    Then explain how we have had massive cooling periods and Ice Ages at the same time as higher CO2 levels than today.

    Well, there are people that study this kind of thing for a living. Have you read anything they’ve put out?

    The expeditions to the Arctic and Greenland have been done. And shown that ice is increasing.

    Where are you getting your information from?
    Is it from people who actually did the research themselves or…is it from some dodgey science denier website or a newspaper?

    Nothing you are saying so far is based upon scientific research.
    They are just P.R.A.T.T. talking points.

    And NOAA figures show…</i.

    NOAA is an international body of well-respected scientists. They support the science of global warming. Check out their web-site.

    If the NOAA figures really say what you think they say then…why does NOAA support the science of global warming?

    Perhaps NOAA (and the rest of the scientific community) is spectacularly wrong or perhaps they are engaged in a global conspiracy covering decades or maybe… your science sources blow chunks.

    The consensus has been built. So what? There would be 100% consensus amongst Creationists also.

    No. No. No.
    Not consensus. Scientific consensus.
    Scientific consensus.
    The key word is “scientific” as in “following the scientific process”.
    Get it? No?
    (sigh)
    Watch the video I linked to. Don’t be afraid of it.

    If you don’t know what scientific consensus is then…look it up.
    If you don’t understand how scientists do their job and the painstaking work that it takes to make a scientific theory become dominant then…find out.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus

    Like

  22. Ken, if there’s any onus on scientists to blog, I reckon it’s not CRIs who should blaze the trail but universities. Most scientist bloggers in the US are grad students, postdocs and progressive professors. That’s how I cut my teeth. They are the primary educators, more individualistic, and more reliant of public funds.

    Like

  23. Ah Ken, just as I thought, when push comes to shove you have no answers. My questions were reasonable, and scientific. I called for evidence. In return you supplied dogma, other idiots’ links and misdirection. Again (sigh) where is it warming? Don’t say Antarctica because only the West is and that’s one quarter the size of the East, which is expanding. Don’t say the Arctic because according to your precious NOAA 10% more ice is there this year month for month compared to last year’s winter coverage. Don’t say glaciers because some are advancing whilst some are receding. Besides, they are unaffected by the air, they melt underneath.

    Like

  24. In return you supplied dogma, other idiots’ links and misdirection.

    Tommy, the problem is that you are ignorant and seem unwilling to back up your claims with science.
    You yourself confessed that you didn’t know that every single international scientific community supports the scientific consensus on global warming.
    That’s pretty bad. Embarrassing, really.

    My questions were reasonable, and scientific.

    No. All you are doing is parroting P.R.A.T.T points.
    What’s a P.R.A.T.T point you ask?
    These are the standard ones…
    http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

    Don’t say Antarctica because only the West is and that’s one quarter the size of the East, which is expanding.

    Who says? Sources.

    Don’t say the Arctic because according to your precious NOAA…

    NOAA? Is that the same NOAA that supports the science of global warming?
    That NOAA?

    Don’t say glaciers because some are advancing whilst some are receding. Besides, they are unaffected by the air, they melt underneath.

    Who says so? Sources.

    My sources are NASA, the Royal Meterological society, the APS, the NAS, NOAA, the AGU, the AMS, etc, etc, etc.
    Every single scientific community on the planet.
    No exceptions.

    What have you got?
    Hmm?

    Like

  25. (Apologies if this is a double post)

    In return you supplied dogma, other idiots’ links and misdirection.

    Tommy, the problem is that you are ignorant and seem unwilling to back up your claims with science.
    You yourself confessed that you didn’t know that every single international scientific community supports the scientific consensus on global warming.
    That’s pretty bad. Embarrassing, really.

    My questions were reasonable, and scientific.

    No. All you are doing is parroting P.R.A.T.T points.
    What’s a P.R.A.T.T point you ask?
    These are the standard ones…
    http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

    Not only are they wrong. They’re boring.
    They’ve been done to death.
    Get new material.

    Don’t say Antarctica because only the West is and that’s one quarter the size of the East, which is expanding.

    Who says? Sources.

    Don’t say the Arctic because according to your precious NOAA…

    NOAA? Is that the same NOAA that supports the science of global warming?
    That NOAA?

    Don’t say glaciers because some are advancing whilst some are receding. Besides, they are unaffected by the air, they melt underneath.

    Who says so? Sources.

    My sources are NASA, the Royal Meterological society, the APS, the NAS, NOAA, the AGU, the AMS, etc, etc, etc.
    Every single scientific community on the planet.
    No exceptions.

    What have you got?
    Hmm?

    Like

  26. Tommy,

    All you should get here are links. There is insufficient space to provide raw evidence, and the audience are not climate scientists. The venue for raw evidence is the scientific papers, or syntheses. The link I would offer is to the IPCC – the best synthesis there is. If you choose not to read it, that’s your call. If you don’t read it, you’re not worth the time and you’re just another example of the dwindling climate change contrarian camp. The link provided of Naomi Oreskes talking about the history of climate change science and denialism is very good, but will come to a conclusion you won’t like.

    Additionally, for open-minded people’s sake, I’ll note that two myths or ploys of the climate change contrarian camp are: (1) “But the ice is growing!” (2) “But glaciers are growing!” Both are true to a degree, but that doesn’t contradict climate change science by any means.

    “Global warming” refers to global averages over decades. Trends from individual years and individual locations will vary, including going in opposite directions, but the global average temperature trend over the past decades, probably due mostly to human-induced changes in radiative forcing, is up. Giving one place where it is warming does not “prove” climate change, nor does one place where it is cooling “disprove” it. The same goes for one or a few years.

    But some examples. NZ’s glaciers are less directly coupled to global temperatures because of the abrupt alps. They grow because of the huge amounts of snow that falls when moisture-laden westerlies hit the Alps. Glaciers on the western side are very variable as a result. Those on the east have a longer time-scale of response. Remember climate change is much more than temperature – winds, rain and snow too. It is likely that NZ will experience more westerly precipitation in the future.

    Antarctica is a desert. As far as I understand – and I get this understanding by reading things like the IPCC report – climate change may well lead to more precipitation there, and hence more ice. Again, temperature changes are only one aspect of climate change.

    Read the IPCC report if you really do have an open mind.

    Like

  27. Tommy @ May 1, 2009 at 7:33 pm. Glad to hear you do accept evolutionary science. It’s just that your method of arguing (and of many climate change deniers) is very similar to that used by creationists. You are not engaging with the climate change evidence and are making claims which are clearly contradicted by the science.

    For example – you make a claim that there is no warming “beyond 1deg every 300 years.” Yet the actual measured figures is 0.17 deg/decade (over the last 30 years) – over 5 degrees in 300 years (see Global warming misrepresentations).

    It’s very easy to throw figures around, and very easy to sneer and make unsubstantiated claims. You have done this with Jim Salinger’s case and you do this to justify your preconceived position of climate change denial.

    In fact, you have exposed that you are prepared to smear the reputation of a scientist just because he has contributed to evidence for climate change that upsets your desire to stick to a preconceived belief.

    Like

  28. Daniel @ May 1, 2009 at 11:39 pm. I agree that university scientists have probably got to be the trailblazers in NZ. However, I also believe that many CRI scientists could be using blogging platforms to get their information out to their “stakeholders”

    In my last few working years I was organising scientists in our group to write short articles which were then sold to other companies and placed on their websites or in the newsletters (available from their websites). So we had the stupid position of writing material for our “clients”, putting it on 3rd party websites but not allowed to put it on our own AgResearch website. Or to use the AgResearch site as a platform for communicating scientific work!

    A stupid bureaucratic situation. I, a scientist, was in charge of assisting science communication using the internet (other companies websites). Yet the Communication Officer (who didn’t have a scientific bone in her body) was ordering me and a colleague to close down scientific web sites we had set up (with threats of dire consequences if we didn’t).

    Yet, typical of these sort of bureaucrats, she shortly after moved on to another company (these people have very short residence times and loyalty compared to scientific staff). She had done nothing substantial to encourage dissemination of scientific information to the public or “stakeholders.” She had in fact tried to hinder it.

    Like

  29. Firstly I am not out to smear Jim Slainger. He is a fine scientist, a good man and believes what he says. I can disagree with his ideas if he puts them in the public domain without people jumping on me for doing so.
    Secondly I agree there is global warming and climate change.
    But no way is it caused by Man. On GW we are no longer in glaciation and the seas have risen as the ice melted. Man had nothing to do with that. Climate is always changing and has done so due to cosmic fluctuations over the past 4.5bn years. Man had nothing to do with that. It is only arrogance to assume he is that influential. But more importantly it cannot be proven, not with models and especially not by scientists who are locked into their own modalities which are purely a function of research funding. A 5-yr old child knows more about the world than some of these airbrain eggheads that try to tell us we are approaching a tipping point and the world needs saving.

    Like

  30. Tommy – you were casting aspersions about Jim Salinger in your first few comments. You didn’t, at that stage, reveal your real problem was that you disagree with the IPCC’s assessment on climate change. Now, I don’t think that was honest and I did my best to find out your reasons. In the end I think it is clear that your reasons had nothing to do with the integrity of that person itself. And I question the morality of your lining up to have a go at him and support his sacking without any real basis.

    Tommy – where is your objectivity to say you accept climate change but “no way is it caused by Man”? That conclusion requires investigation and evidence. Climate scientists have been doing that investigation. They know about the natural factors involved in climate change. For some time there has been a suspicion that anthropogenic factors also contributed. This suspicion has changed to become a “probable” and then an “almost sure assessment.” If anything IPCC assessments have been over-careful and underestimated the problem.

    Have a read of Gareth Morgan’s article in the latest Listener. he claims to have started as a “sceptic” but now accepts the scientific evidence. He also points out, like all of science, future findings may change that assessment. But he also suggests it would be wrong for humanity not to deal with this very likely future problem now.

    Like

  31. Rubbish. I did not start out bagging Salinger. I said he wasn’t a Nobel Prize winner but a part-Nobel Prize winner, sharing it with another 2499. A fairly neutral statement. I also said he is an employee and compared him to myself, also an employee who would not be able to speak as if I owned the company. No aspersions there. Then I said he shouldn’t have been allowed to take home what he had produced at work. I’m not allowed to. Since and in my replies here I have praised Salinger three times. But then I added that I thought his ideas were outdated and described why many local scientists like (the late) Augie Auer who was a professor of meteorology, Dr Chris de Freitas, Professors Bob Carter and Ian Plimer have all demonstrated that NIWA’s stance on climate matters as voiced by Salinger was at least debatable and probably incorrect.
    As to the IPCC you are incorrect. Look at Ch8 of their orginal assessment. They crossed out ‘uncertain’ and inserted ‘certainty of human influence’, to the subsequent howls and mass resignations of the scientists who were ooriginally commissioned. Since then they have been forced to backtrack, but incurred the wrath and mistrust of the TRUE scientific community, not the political one to which you clearly belong. As to Gareth Morgan, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Opinion is a separate matter. The whole point of this blog is whether or not one is entitled to speak unauthorisedly on behlaf of one’s employer. Salinger was not. Get over it.

    Like

  32. Curious. If you have read the IPCC report, then you must have known that your red herrings about ice cover and glaciers increasing had been addressed. Why did you waste our time, yours and mine?

    Like

  33. I guess you have to critically assess scientists by what they say. I read the article by Chris de Freitas in yesterday’s Herald. While not strongly written it was still a collection of the tired old mantra that are continually being used by climate change deniers. Things like the quiet sun, the recent cooling, the cooling after the last war, etc., etc., A whole list of them, all of them well understood.

    Now, he must be aware of this understanding but still peddles them as “evidence.” Suggests to me he is being political rather than scientific.

    Like

  34. Daniel
    Read it again but also read what others say what happened. How they had to get rid of the Medieaval Warming Period before they went much further with their agenda. Read Fred S. Singer. Read John Daly. Read Senator James Inhofe. Red herrings? Ha ha. So the sun warming up the earth is also a red herring I suppose.
    BTW, aren’t we discussing Jim’s dismissal anymore?

    Ken
    Chris is somewhat restrained by the university that pays his salary. My point exactly. As Jim should have been. End of story.

    Like

  35. Tommy – my point had nothing to do with Chris de Freitas speaking without his employers approval. Although, being in a university rather than a CRI, he probably didn’t need approval. He would be in a quite different situation to that of Salinger. As I have said CRI scientists often have to put up with commercial criticism yet are denied their right of reply by their own employers.

    On the other hand this can lead to insufficient review of what academics say. I have been very aware that university scientists have less peer review of their papers before submission than CRI scientists do. This can negatively influence their quality.

    No, my point is that Chris de Freitas should surely have been familiar with the scientific understanding of the issues he listed – and yet he repeated them uncritically as denial mantra. That is why I said he was speaking politically rather than scientifically.

    And doesn’t he have links with some Free Enterprise think tank in the US which is promoting climate change denial?

    Like

  36. …many local scientists like (the late) Augie Auer who was a professor of meteorology, Dr Chris de Freitas, Professors Bob Carter and Ian Plimer

    Many? Nope.
    They are a tiny minority that don’t do any work in science to back up their claims.
    That’s the reason why you can’t cite them in an argument.
    As Daniel pointed out, they are all part of a dwindling camp of contrarians.

    Augie Auer- Founder of the global warming denier group “New Zealand Climate Science Coalition”.
    Liked to talk to the media a lot.
    Never actually did any peer-reviewed research falsifying global warming.
    Was a meteorologist but had no background in climatology.

    Chris de Freitas-Global warming contrarian.
    Liked to talk to the media a lot.
    Never actually did any peer-reviewed research falsifying global warming.
    No background in climatology.

    Bob Carter-A geologist specializing in palaeoclimatology, stratigraphy, marine geology, and environmental science.
    LOVES to talk to the media.
    Sadly, he also never actually did any peer-reviewed research falsifying global warming.
    No background in climatology.

    Ian Plimer-Another geologist!
    He also likes to…well, you get the picture by now.
    🙂

    Tommy, where are you getting your P.R.A.T.T points from?

    Would you like some more? There are some real stumpers that will really fox those smart alecky high-and-mighty scientists.

    How about the hockey stick?!?
    Or the fact that CO2 is a “natural gas”?
    Mention Al Gore a couple of times. That’s always good for a laugh.
    (giggle)

    …mistrust of the TRUE scientific community, not the political one to which you clearly belong.

    The TRUE scientific community?
    Wow.
    I love how you put “true” in caps. It makes it so much more convincing.
    If only you had…y’know…evidence to back up your vapourware claims.

    Do yourself a favour, Tommy.
    Watch the video.
    If you have a beef with it, then say so.

    Just be prepared to back up your claims.
    Cite your sources. Do it properly.

    Like

  37. Heraclides

    Tommy,

    Universities have relatively little control over what their staff say, actually (even if their administrations might like to). More pragmatically, there is a point at which it is smarter to let people with expertise and experience (e.g. Jim) get on with their job instead of baby-sitting them. For example, I doubt many (or maybe even any) of the statements to the media regards the “swine flu” over the last week from university staff were “screened”.

    Regards your suggested list of people to also read, Senator James Inhofe is a politician, not a scientist. His job—if he does it properly—is to represent his “constituency”, not science. He is also widely known for “pounding the bible” and citing it to justify his positions when presenting his politics, as is the case for a number of Republicans. (You were saying you are not a creationist: I have to say I’m now a bit doubtful about that.)

    I believe that Singer does not dispute that global warming occurs, just the sources of it.

    Like

  38. Ken
    I’m sure Chris or anyone else for that matter who comments publicly on subjects in his own chosen academic field is familiar with his subject. Just because you disagree does not reduce such comments to mantra. Instead it reduces your political comments to a rationale for suppression.

    Cedric
    Cite my sources? Huh! Do the legwork yourself. You would only put up opposing links. That process doesn’t advance truth. Evidence does. So, I’m curious, show me in Auckland, where I live, where climate change caused by Man is occurring. Is Rangitoto now becoming snowcapped? Are the Waitakeres’ trees visibly dying? Is Takapuna Beach disappearing due to rising sealevels? Have our seasons shifted such that rural temperature ranges are now uncomparable with those recorded a century ago? Point to evidence, that I of feeble brain can actually see and understand, please. Genuine enquiry. But I don’t want to hear of anything that has come from an extrapolated computer model, thanks, anymore than I want to read any Al Gore/IPCC/ sci-fi.

    Like

  39. Tommy – if you understood anything about climate you would realise your reference to Rangitoto becoming snowcapped is ridiculous. And desperate!

    And its not a matter of disagreeing with Chris de Freitas. It’s a matter of understanding the science behind the issues he raised and being surprised that he appeared not to. But I think the real answer is that he does know the science but still repeats the mantra because he is operating politically – not scientifically.

    Like

  40. Tommy, you raised the issues of ice cover and glaciers. You were refuted. They are typical red herrings, which I can’t imagine you don’t realise. You haven’t actually read the IPCC reports, have you?

    “Cite my sources? Huh! Do the legwork yourself.”

    Well, science works by citing sources. It’s like citing evidence. It’s like putting your money where your mouth is.

    “…show me in Auckland, where I live, where climate change caused by Man is occurring.”

    You still haven’t learned. Individual locations, by themselves, say nothing whatsoever about global climate change. The evidence is in the IPCC, but you don’t seem to want to read it.

    Like

  41. okay Daniel, you don’t want to show evidence because there is none (as you agree) but you prefer the red herring of the IPCC. So let’s play it your way. Show me the evidence the IPCC has come up with that is not based on computer modelling or political spin. Oh and spare me the patronising of what or not I have learned. I have read the IPCC. I have rejected it out of hand because I am a scientist. Not a political one.

    Like

  42. Cedric
    That’s your evidence?

    Like

  43. Tommy, what’s your PhD in? Where did you study? Where would I read your research?

    Like

  44. Yes Tommy, just as a matter of interests (and acknowledging that most other contributors to this discussion have been open about their scientific backgrounds.
    What is your speciality? Who do you work for?

    Like

  45. I wasn’t aware that this blog was about me. I’m here to discuss Jim’s sacking, justified or wrongfully. I brought up that maybe Jim’s science was outdated, and that he could learn much from those who have looked for real evidence and found none. I also called for real evidence and all I got back was links to dunderheads like the IPCC scammers. So if no one wants to discuss climate and evidence then I’m wasting my and your time.

    Like

  46. I guess you are wasting our time, Tommy, as you are just sticking with extreme assertions not supported by science. However, your did say you rejected this science “out of hand because I am a scientist.”

    Naturally, we are interested in finding out what sort of science you do and who you work for. For example, I at first thought you might work for NIWA and have inside information of Salinger’s sacking. Is that the case?

    Like

  47. I think you are hopelessly wrong. Man-caused global warming is not supported by science. OTOH my assertions that this is so IS supported by science because true science is always rooted in skepticism. If you don’t know that, you are not a scientist. If you do know that but are biased by your belief in human effects of the environment that are not irrefutably established beyond mathematical doubt and your method of verification is to seek consensus from other wanna-be-in-the-limelighters, then you may have all the letters and phDs and head of department positions you can carry, and head the country’s biggest science institution but in my book still cannot call yourself a scientist. Proof is so rigorous that the null hypothesis route must first be trodden. This has not been done in anthropogenic gw/cc and this is why science for the first time in 400 years of good lab-lives of dedicated men and women is now in a shambles. The politicos of the UN have compromised and suppressed our right to truth all because of their greed for influence and control. Thatcher/Clinton/Gore had a neat little tax plan to scam-tithe every industry that ran an engine. They enlisted the Enron fraudsters and came up with Kyoto . That’s 4 reasons not to trust it for a start. Bush and Congress and John Howard did what they could to suffocate the KP but Bush was too Texan for the Left and Howard too old-school. The West is now entering an era of Stalinist regulation measures like nothing the previous Labour Greens ever dreamt they could achieve. Not for science. For money and power.

    Like

  48. Heraclides

    Methnks “Tommy the troll”.

    Proof is so rigorous that the null hypothesis route must first be trodden. — Tommy isn’t a scientist.

    Like

  49. Naturally, we are interested in finding out what sort of science you do and who you work for.

    Any bets that Tommy the ‘scientist’ is a software designer? TV repairman? Dentist? Theologian?
    They seem to come up with unusual frequency and claim to be a scientist.
    🙂

    So if no one wants to discuss climate and evidence then I’m wasting my and your time.

    No. If you want to discuss global warming then…great.
    Yet it would be nice if you found out about it for yourself and did some reading on the subject…and then come back and discuss it like a reasonable fellow.

    So far you’re just trolling.
    You are behaving like a creationist troll.
    Here’s an example…
    Cite my sources? Huh! Do the legwork yourself.

    Um, no. I don’t feel like it. Sorry.

    People have better things to do that to clean up your slobber.
    If you want to make an argument then it’s up to YOU to back it up.
    You make the claim, you support your claim.
    Cite your sources.
    Just like your English teacher tried to teach you but sadly you were asleep in class that day. Oops.

    … but in my book still cannot call yourself a scientist.

    Is the title of the book “The Bible” by any chance?
    🙂

    The politicos of the UN have compromised and suppressed our right to truth all because of their greed for influence and control.

    Ahah! Conspiracy theory.
    All the scientists on the planet have teamed up with “the politicos” and are out to get us!
    Help! Help!
    The black ‘copters are coming. They want your hard-earned taxes and yur wimmin, b’gosh.
    (giggle)

    Like

  50. Pingback: Public hearing for Salinger case « Open Parachute

  51. Pingback: Epistemolo-what?!! « Open Parachute

Leave a Reply: please be polite to other commenters & no ad hominems.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s