Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Ecofrauds Are Getting Worse

Peter Woods of NAS writes:
I am pasting below a copy of an email that I’ve sent to many members of the National Academy of Sciences. I’ve also sent a version of it to the board members of the AAAS.  And I have posted it to the National Association of Scholars website here.

It explains itself pretty clearly, but it will help to give a little background.  We were drawn into this by James Enstrom, a former UCLA senior scientist and a National Association of Scholars member. We championed his case when he was fired for blowing the whistle on a major fraud at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB had issued research findings (and ultimately regulations) based on a study that Enstrom demonstrated was fraudulent.  The main author of the study had a mail order Ph.D.—as it happens, the address of the phony degree-granting institution is on Madison Avenue two blocks from my office.  There was other mischief too, involving several of Enstrom’s colleagues who had seats at CARB.

Enstrom sought to publish some account of this in Science under the editorship of Marcia McNutt.  He didn’t get anywhere. But he did end up making the acquaintance of other scientists who had similar experiences with McNutt. McNutt is now the only candidate to be president of the National Academy of Sciences.  Enstrom hoped that if he could draw attention to her record of bolting the door against scientific dissent from establishment positions, the members of the Academy might have second thoughts.

6 comments:

Marcia McNutt said...

Woods sent his letter to NAS members, but not to me, because he knew the letter was a fraud. The case laid out in the letter is factually inaccurate. The EiC of Science does not made decisions on what to publish, but rather makes strategic decisions on editorial direction. The decision to not pursue a request to open a more than 50-year-old complaint of misconduct was based on the fact that all of the principles involved in the case have passed away and are unable to mount any defense. In addition, papers more than 50 years old no longer have impact.

Minicapt said...

Somehow, Dr McNutt, I don't believe you.

Cheers

Clayton Cramer said...

Dr. McNutt: They are dead so we can't see if they were correct? Vesalius not allowed to correct Galen's work because he was dead?

hga said...

The EiC of Science does not made decisions on what to publish,

Which is but misdirection for these requests to examine previous published items in and the editorial positions of Science.

but rather makes strategic decisions on editorial direction.

Which is clearly not to disturb the narrative, something any long term observer of the journal realizes is a policy significantly preceding your tenure as EiC. In my case I joined the AAAS in the late '70s a year or two prior to attending MIT and this became clear within half a decade.

The decision to not pursue a request to open a more than 50-year-old complaint of misconduct was based on the fact that all of the principles involved in the case have passed away and are unable to mount any defense. In addition, papers more than 50 years old no longer have impact.

Maybe as measured by formal "impact", current citations to such old papers, that's true, but the claimed results are still relevant today. (This is about the (in)famous linear no-threshold (LNT) dose-response model, breaking with the toxicology general position that the dose makes the poison, albeit not without a theoretical basis, and a quick skim of the Wikipedia page confirms that it's still a hot topic of debate and research.)

If it is true that the prominence of LNT comes from this 1956 paper, even if it's been superseded by following publications, and that paper is significantly flawed---you're the one moving the goalpost from "Is it right?" to "Is it scientific misconduct?", which is not something the critics are very interested in for the obvious reasons including the one you state---it deserves reexamination.

Having read your email response to the issue (page 11), I can support your decision to not retract the paper, but that's hardly the only remedy possible for Science, if you want it to retain some shreds of the respect it was once accorded.

On the other hand, it could be viewed as one of a long set of questionable papers published by Science which had major public policy consequences. I'm most familiar with the December 1983 TAPPS nuclear winter paper because I got it in the mail like everyone else outside of it's research circle, it addressed issues of science I started studying in grade school in 1969, and therefore closely followed the debates that make it clear it was all but garbage (the excuse for only doing an 1 dimensional simulation of the atmosphere was an inadequate fig leaf for the ability to overbalance such simulations with extreme inputs, which suffered from inadequate explanation let alone justification).

And your reply here fails to address the 2 other complaints, about much more recent controversies in which Science has taken significant stands, fine particulate air pollution and the red hot issue of "the so-called consensus model of climate change". (Don't forget that some of us are old enough to remember the global cooling scare, and to even note that one prominent figure in that then smoothly moved to global warming, before it became nearly unfalsifiable "climate change").

Look, there's good reasons the American public increasingly distrusts the pronouncements of Official Science, and that has grave public policy implications, from reducing support for science to the boy who cried wolf problem (what happens if/when a truly grave threat revealed by an institution with tattered credibility is largely ignored because of that until it's "too late"). You are most certainly part of this problem, and if you expect to be respected as a real scientist vs. a member of the Science Establishment you need to do more than blow off concerns like this.

w said...

Like the war of repealing the 2nd amendment it is a war of attrition. That is, they are counting on all of us old guys dying off and a full generation of young kids that won't know any better than to believe their propaganda coming of age so they will eventually have control one way or the other.

Bryan said...

I am sickened by all of this and know Dr. Enstrom very well. In fact I spent quite a bit of time with him and many others in trying to get CARB to come clean. I was the one that outed the fake P.hd and you can see it here in this video.

Go to 5:20 of this video https://youtu.be/F132uqNBspc