Category Archives: Research integrity

Environmental Ethics: I’m Right. Everyone Else is Wrong. No, You Can’t Have My Data. After all, it’s MY data.

This paper has almost got it right. The title really should be; “Ethics of Environmental (Climate) Scientists? What’s That?”.

happy-bouncing-smilie

As mentioned in a prior post here, I suspect the reason data is not made available is two fold: (1) An insecure scientist or agency does not want to be embarrassed by having others find their mistakes [there are many opportunities in science and engineering to learn humility] and (2) scientists or agencies do not want their ideas stolen.

In research and academia in general ideas and data are a commodity (like buying milk and eggs). To many in the academic community to do something radical like make raw data available to anyone is like them putting their wallet on the sidewalk, making it available to anyone.

Stealing of research ideas does happen. Along with arbitrary adjustments of data, such as here. But even so only independent analysis and/or competing independent research can discover errors and intentional data manipulation in the underlying data of a study. Data fraud does happen. Making raw data available for independent review in order to support assertions being made is an important part of the self-correcting process of science.  I believe this should also apply to computer model code. Especially now when “peer-review” is not able to discover such errors or manipulation embedded in the statistics and modeling.

Lastly, the assertion that sharing data is “good” itself presumes that there is a uniform invariant universal standard of goodness that everyone “should” agree with. I’d like to know what standard these authors are using to make this statement. You see, if there is no such standard then why should anyone share anything at all? Why not manipulate data? Perception is reality so they can make up their own reality? What’s wrong with that? Maybe the environmental (climate) scientists and others who won’t make data available and change their data can just do what they want? Who are you to say they are “wrong”? Now I have an answer to such questions but I’d like to hear what others have to say.

Soranno, PA., Kendra S. Cheruvelil, Kevin C. Elliott, and Georgina M. Montgomery. It’s Good to Share: Why Environmental Scientists’ Ethics Are Out of Date. Bioscience, October 2014 DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biu169

Although there have been many recent calls for increased data sharing, the majority of environmental scientists do not make their individual data sets publicly available in online repositories. Current data-sharing conversations are focused on overcoming the technological challenges associated with data sharing and the lack of rewards and incentives for individuals to share data. We argue that the most important conversation has yet to take place: There has not been a strong ethical impetus for sharing data within the current culture, behaviors, and practices of environmental scientists. In this article, we describe a critical shift that is happening in both society and the environmental science community that makes data sharing not just good but ethically obligatory. This is a shift toward the ethical value of promoting inclusivity within and beyond science. An essential element of a truly inclusionary and democratic approach to science is to share data through publicly accessible data sets.

Click here for full paper (Open Access).

Improving Drinking Water Research Credibility

There is a great need for this type of reform in drinking water research, especially on the health effects and benefits side. The same arguments should apply to research used to support regulatory policies, many of which are poorly conceived will little scientific support.

Ioannidis JPA (2014) How to Make More Published Research True. PLoS Med 11(10): e1001747. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001747

Summary Points

  • Currently, many published research findings are false or exaggerated, and an estimated 85% of research resources are wasted.
  • To make more published research true, practices that have improved credibility and efficiency in specific fields may be transplanted to others which would benefit from them—possibilities include the adoption of large-scale collaborative research; replication culture; registration; sharing; reproducibility practices; better statistical methods; standardization of definitions and analyses; more appropriate (usually more stringent) statistical thresholds; and improvement in study design standards, peer review, reporting and dissemination of research, and training of the scientific workforce.
  • Selection of interventions to improve research practices requires rigorous examination and experimental testing whenever feasible.
  • Optimal interventions need to understand and harness the motives of various stakeholders who operate in scientific research and who differ on the extent to which they are interested in promoting publishable, fundable, translatable, or profitable results.
  • Modifications need to be made in the reward system for science, affecting the exchange rates for currencies (e.g., publications and grants) and purchased academic goods (e.g., promotion and other academic or administrative power) and introducing currencies that are better aligned with translatable and reproducible research.

HR 4012 Secret Science Reform Act is a good step in the right direction

H. R. 4012

To prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 6, 2014

Mr. SCHWEIKERT (for himself, Mr. SMITH of Texas, Mr. HALL, Mr. BROUN of Georgia, Mr. CULBERSON, Mr. BRIDENSTINE, Mrs. LUMMIS, Mr. ROHRABACHER, Mr. COLLINS of New York, Mr. BURGESS, Mr. OLSON, Mr. CRAMER, Mr. BUCSHON, Mr. HULTGREN, Mr. NEUGEBAUER, Mr. PALAZZO, Mr. BROOKS of Alabama, Mr. SALMON, and Mr. FRANKS of Arizona) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology


A BILL

To prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Secret Science Reform Act of 2014′.

SEC. 2. DATA TRANSPARENCY.

    Section 6(b) of the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (42 U.S.C. 4363 note) is amended to read as follows:
    `(b)(1) The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is–
      `(A) specifically identified; and
      `(B) publicly available in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.
    `(2) Nothing in the subsection shall be construed as requiring the public dissemination of information the disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
    `(3) In this subsection–
      `(A) the term `covered action’ means a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance; and
      `(B) the term `scientific and technical information’ includes–
        `(i) materials, data, and associated protocols necessary to understand, assess, and extend conclusions;
        `(ii) computer codes and models involved in the creation and analysis of such information;
        `(iii) recorded factual materials; and
        `(iv) detailed descriptions of how to access and use such information.’.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am now wondering if Congress could write a bill that would keep data out of the hands of government bureaucrats who are not qualified to analyze it (or even understand it)? Just a thought…..

happy bouncing smilie

Entrenched ideology results in fabricated conspiracy on climate

In this very odd essay (click here), the authors argue that there is some sort of conspiracy against “science” by those who do not agree with the anthropogenic global warming view. They catalog a number of legitimate abuses (e.g. harrassment, etc) which do not have a place in science. However, they fail to acknowledge that their own behavior and the behavior of others who promote their particular views have indeed harrassed scientists who have different points of view than theirs and make opposing claims based on solid science. Even use of the pejorative term “denier” in this essay is harrassment.

The writers apparently do not understand the underlying presuppositions and epistemological problems associated with their analysis. Further, they apparently have no regard for contrary observational science. In this case, the authors presuppose that only their conclusion is “science” and anything else is not science. This is indeed a false choice.

Further, the authors implicitly argue that the harrassing behavior they have experienced is somehow “morally wrong.” On what basis do they make this argument? If such behavior is morally wrong, then there must be a universal standard against which to judge this behavior as being wrong. But which standard? Their opinion? Why? Who are they or anyone else to say what behavior is universally right or wrong for anyone but them? Certainly, they are not in any position to make a universal claim about moral behavior, when they themselves participate in or implicitly support harrassing behavior by their supporters against those who disagree with them.

Indeed, the God of Bible has wired such a moral standard into the fabric of mankind and the universe. As creator, only standards set by God can be imposed by God on everyone. So this essay shows once again that to make such claims as universals, these authors must presuppose the existence of the God of the Bible. Yet, they deny the very existence of this God.

I certainly agree that harrassing behavior is wrong and not appropriate in science. But I have a basis for this belief, rather than “just a mere opinion” that these authors are expressing. They are certainly entitled to their opinion. But holding to an entrenched ideology, rather than changing their minds or adjusting their beliefs on climate as new studies are published, simply leads to conspiratorial fabrications.

The abnormal psychology looks to be on their side of this argument. To take a personal, mere opinion, and turn it into a universal claim without any foundation for it is certainly arbitrary, if not irrational.

Lastly, the authors do not recognize the difference between the laboratory and the public square. They are in and have been in the public square via the IPCC for many years, yet they seem very surprised when those people who they view as ignorant ask them hard questions. In the public square, the “science” must face the test of reality (correspondence and coherence). The “science” that passes the test will survive. The “science” that does not pass the test of reality will fade away.

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Hubble Image – Horsehead Nebula

horsehead-nebula-hubble-620

“Michael Mann has never been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”

I’ve stayed out of this squable, but this claim must be corrected. Click here for the full article….or click here for another report.

Oregon State University (OSU) fires faculty with alternative views, OSU should face consequences

Chemist Nickolas Drapela, PhD was fired from his position as a “Senior Instructor” in the Department of Chemistry at OSU…..because of his views on climate…..this is nothing less than viewpoint discrimination…..no tolerance, no academic freedom, no objectivity…..

Click here for full details at Watts Up With That…..