20 February 2008

Bad Science: PhysOrg.Com Caught Serving "Science" Propaganda? You Decide

Propaganda is as old as mankind. People who have power, or who wish to be in power, have everything to gain by painting a reality that causes the masses to think and behave a certain way. Most of us know that mainstream news--as reported in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television--is often heavily slanted toward a particular point of view. A lot of "news" is, quite frankly, propaganda. We have come to expect this bias. But many of us let down our guard when reading "science news."

For example, many people go to websites such as Physorg.com fully expecting to read objective science news articles and news releases. I have quoted many articles from Physorg myself, and have found the site to provide much useful material, in the past. Imagine my surprise when clicking on a Physorg.com article entitled "Solar evidence points to human causes of climate change", to find a classic propaganda piece, instead of a scientific report substantiating the title.

When skeptical as to the veracity of a report, first check the sourcing. You may think that Physorg.com creates its own stories, but no--like most such news reporting websites, Physorg gets most stories from other sources. In this case, the source is listed as "Harvard University." But Harvard University is not a source, it is an institution. You cannot click on "Harvard University" to find the original release. You may as well list the source as "anonymous," except--the report purportedly deals with the AAAS Annual Meeting, "held in Boston." But there are no links to the particular presentations quoted by the article. (on my own I found this Eurekalert link to the AAAS Annual Meeting News--but so far have not found any reports that match the Physorg article)

Looking further in the article, astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas is quoted, apparently recanting her global warming heresy.
“Did the sun cause what we see on the ground?” she asked. “It doesn’t seem so. But there is some fuzziness in the data, which suggests it could go either way. The answer isn’t known at this time.”
The quote appears incomplete, and is not consistent with Baliunas' overall work, up to the present time. Clearly, the article is leaving something out--quoting Baliunas out of context. But where is the context, the rest of the quote? Where is the sourcing?

The article includes cryptic "quote snips" from David Hathaway:
“Our star, the sun, is a variable star,” said David H. Hathaway, a sunspot specialist from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Alabama. “It varies by about one-tenth of one percent” in energy output. But “there are suggestions the sun" varies "more than that, because we see it has gone through some periods, such as the Maunder minimum.” During the Maunder minimum, which lasted from 1645 to 1715 and is also known as the Little Ice Age, there was an absence or near-absence of sunpots and northern Europe experienced especially cold winters.
...and a very short snip from Baliunas:
There is considerable variability in the 60 sunlike stars she has examined, she said, depending on how fast each rotates and other factors.Unfortunately, she added, “there is no model to explain [solar surface activity] on the century-to-millennium time scale,” and long-term changes in solar output need further study.
Finally, comes the extended summary, tying everything together. Since the article is purportedly about the sun's effect--or lack of effect--on climate, we would expect a solar expert to be allowed to sum up the evidence, to put the final "spin" on the topic. But what "solar expert" did Physorg.com choose to put in the driver's seat?

Caspar Amman, a former student of "Hockey Stick" Michael Mann. Amman is not a solar scientist or astrophysicist. Rather he is a climate modeler with a homepage at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. A climate modeler on the "Hockey Team." Someone with a clear historical link to the discredited Hockey Stick view of climate made so famous by Al Gore. Why would Amman be given the final word on the topic of solar effects on climate--not his area of expertise?

One might wonder. But Amman did not waste the opportunity, not at all.
global warming is occurring at an incredibly rapid rate, faster than any previous episodes of climate change known from the paleo-climate data. Ammann did add, however, that there is reason to hope that the most dire consequences can be avoided. Although it’s clearly too late to avoid the heating of the earth’s atmosphere, “we can substantially cut [it]” by severely reducing the amounts of carbon dioxide going into the air. “It is absolutely achievable,” he said — if by mid-century societies can generate enough will to make the necessary changes.
Amman--a consummate team player--delivers for the team once again.

Where did this article come from? It appears to make the claim that it is based on a presentation (or multiple presentations) at a symposium as part of this year's AAAS meetings in Boston. But how could one tell what it is based on, from the article itself? One cannot. This is sloppy reporting at best, and a transparent attempt at climate propaganda at worst. Which is it? You decide.

Al Gore understood propaganda when he was US Vice President. That is why when he controlled billions of dollars in research fund allocation, he shunted the money to organisations such as NASA Goddard, full of people he could trust to make "the right kind of news."
There have always been plenty of environmental religionists in academia, but Al Gore is the one who gave them billions of dollars to play with, while excluding all “contrarians” from his largesse. As vice president over the eight years when global warming hysteria first made climate science a funding priority, Al Gore allocated every dime. This was his portfolio as President Clinton's climate science czar. With over ten billion dollars to spend (a huge amount for academia), Al Gore created the current climate science industry almost from scratch, transforming what had been a small backwater discipline into a juggernaut of his own framing.

The funding amounts have since multiplied several times, all of it channeled through the religious ideologues that Al Gore originally empowered, men like NASA scientists James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt, two of the most self-conscious frauds in the history of science, all for what they truly believe to be the best of all possible reasons: saving the environment from human economic activity.___ErrorTheory_via_TomNelson
Professional risk analysts--insurance actuaries--are giving climate change short shrift (via TomNelson) on a relative scale of risks. Is it possible that actuaries are looking at the issue a bit more clearly than the climate modelers--who have to paint a grim picture to keep the grants coming? An interesting thought.

I am saving the best part for last--but you will have to do the work. Contrast this PDF document by David Archibald, looking at solar cycles 24 and 25 in relation to near future climate, with the sloppy Physorg.com report above. Where can you find the "meat" as opposed to the "fluff?"

Solar effects on climate cannot be dismissed so easily as Physorg.com appears to believe. The debate is just beginning.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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