Elements of truth

Stoat’s recent post about peer review, reminded me that there was something related that I had been considering writing about. There appears to be many climate “skeptics” (deniers some would call them) who regularly make claims about peer review being flawed (often referred to by them as pal-review), academia being a closed-shop that skeptics cannot enter, and that research funding is biased towards those who toe the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) party line (for example). What’s ironic – of course – is that most (if not all) who make these claims have virtually no experience with any of this. They’ve never published a paper (never had a paper reviewed or reviewed a paper), they’ve never been in an academic job or experienced academic hiring practices, and they’ve never come close to having a grant funded (never submitted a grant, reviewed a grant, or sat on a grants panel). So, in my opinion at least, most of what they say is essentially, ill-informed nonsense.

However, there is a grain of truth to some of what they say. Peer-review isn’t perfect. It’s, however, never been intended as a way of confirming scientific results; it’s simply meant to be a check for obvious errors and a way of filtering out what is clearly wrong or poor. It also helps to improve things even when they’re good. However, it is true that sometimes good papers can be held up by poor reviewers (who might have some kind of bias) and bad papers can get through because of lazy or bad reviewers. There are attempts to try different styles (open review, double blind) but, at the end of the day, it’s not really a major problem. The good papers will still get published and the bad ones that do get through will either get ignored or someone will publish something else that illustrates the errors. So, it’s not perfect but it doesn’t stop the good papers and doesn’t result in bad papers getting much more exposure and credibility than they deserve.

Academia also has its issues. There is an element of hiring people who fit a certain style. I, for example, don’t think it’s particularly diverse. Gender balance in the sciences is a particular issue that has still to be solved. I’ve heard people say “it’s okay, we only hire excellence and so we are not discriminating”. This sounds good, but often excellence is defined by those already in the system, and – consequently – it’s very hard to avoid unconscious biases. I believe that we should recognise that there are many different characteristic that can make up an excellent academic. So, in my opinion, this is a big issue that I think we should be aiming to do something about. Does it mean, however, that universities are hiring people who aren’t very good? No, I don’t think it does. The people being hired are still very good, do excellent research and, often, are very good teachers (although the balance between research and teaching is another issue that I won’t comment on here). It just means that we aren’t always hiring the best possible people.

What about research funding? Again there are issues here. There are areas that are topical and for which funding is easier than others (even within certain subjects). You’re often judged on metrics that may not be a particularly good indicator of the quality of your research. Your funding success may depend on the choice of reviewers and who’s on the panel. I even think that getting your name known to those on the panel can make a difference. Sometimes you have to try a few times before being successful. Some people don’t hide their disdain for certain areas that they are meant to be judging. So, it’s not perfect. Is it terrible and do we end up funding lots of really poor research? No, I don’t think we do. If anything, there’s probably much more that could be justifiably funded than there is funding available. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good and generally – from what I’ve seen – does a fair job of distributing research funding sensibly.

Maybe the biggest concern I have at the moment is that universities appear to be seeing themselves, more and more, as businesses in which income generation is a priority. Of course, you need money to pay for the costs of teaching and research, but there’s a big difference between knowing the research that you would like to be doing and deciding how best to fund that, and using research simply as a way of generating income. Similarly for teaching. Universities now introduce postgraduate degrees as a way of attracting overseas, fee-paying students. Are these degrees worth having? I’m sure they’re valuable and fine, from an academic perspective. Would we teach all of them if it wasn’t for the fee-paying students? Probably not. From what I’ve seen of typical climate “skeptics”, however, most would probably think this is the way universities should go – get out from the control of government and let the free-market operate. Personally, I think it’s a terrible way to go, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong. But – even so – from what I can tell, good universities are still full of good academics, who teach interesting and useful material to good students who will one day do interesting and valuables things because of what they’ve learned.

Anyway, this post has maybe gone off at a bit of a tangent. The point I was trying to make is that even though there are problems with peer-review, academia, and research funding, none of these problems means that we have poor researchers, publishing weak research in agenda-filled publications. There are things that could be done better, but that’s true of any complex system. Should we try to improve aspects of the system? Of course. Is it broken in some major way? I don’t think so. We should always aim to do things better and try to avoid biases and avoid being influenced by anything that will damage our ability to do good research. We don’t always succeed, but – by and large – it’s a pretty good system that could do with some tweaking (admittedly, more in some areas than in others). Climate “skeptics/contrarians” are entitled to their opinions, but it would seem silly to assume that those with no real experience of any aspect of academic research, are somehow able to make profound judgements about it’s credibility.

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42 Responses to Elements of truth

  1. Rachel says:

    Great post. I agree with you completely.

  2. I don’t think you’ve posted it before, so no :-)

  3. Rachel says:

    I am shocked, AndThen, just shocked. He posted it previously here.

  4. Rachel,
    Blast, you’ve just shown that I don’t read every bit of everyone’s comments. May explain why some of my replies don’t make much sense :-)

  5. Joshua says:

    One of the attributes that goes along with many of the criticisms of peer-review that I’ve seen is a binary mentality: The thinking seems to be that since problems,. the system is fatally flawed and that we’d be better off without it.

    I’d like to know how to get into that perfect world that those people inhabit, where it is realistic to expect perfection and flawlessness.

  6. Joshua,

    I’d like to know how to get into that perfect world that those people inhabit, where it is realistic to expect perfection and flawlessness.

    Indeed, but you see something similar in how they approach the science. If they can find an issue with a model or with some analysis, it immediately invalidates it all, rather than simply being something that maybe was necessary in order to make the problem tractable.

  7. AnOilMan says:

    Joshua: All systems are flawed. The question is what do you do about it. When a company has a problem do you A) freak out and caper about, B) let the quality system handle it. (I’m working in a type A company.)

    As I’ve said before… peer review is intrinsically tied to the notion of consensus. Poor reviewers, poor editor, poor papers = dead journal. Good reviewers, Good editor, Good papers = thriving journal. The other purpose for peer reviewed journals is to share your work with your peers, and not the general public. A journal only survives if it gets read. You could even argue that this is the free-market in action.

    The Anti Science journals are all a dieing breed that is because so few scientists want to read them. As a free-market notion targeting <3% of any market is a recipe for failure. Energy and Environment comes to mind;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_%26_Environment

    A reasonable paper from a bad journal may still get noticed and examined. Craig Loehle's papers come to mind. They weren't bad, but were found wanting at the time. He'd argued that climate change had stopped when the oceans went down a few years ago. This was shown to be false at the time, and observed to be wrong still later.

  8. AnOilMan says:

    andthentheresphysics: Or, “Why is the whole world crazy but me?” hmm….

  9. I agree. Such errors will slow scientific progress down and as far as it is possible we should try to fix them, but I do not see how such problems could have produced a different understanding of the climate system.

    For example, without a decent peer review, there would be more climate “skeptic” papers, that would only mean that researchers have to read more nonsense to find good information. That would slow down progress, but those paper would still be ignored for lack of merit and not influence the understanding of the reality out there.

  10. Scientific publishing is self pruning. Bad papers that slip through get found out when others try to replicate and can’t. I have 3 papers in my field and each was rigorously reviewed and took a couple of months to get through.

    Apart from the illinformed complaints that you have mentioned from the cynical, the one that I find amusing is that of paywalling. I figure that if you are genuinely interested in a paper and don’t wish to appear wilfully ignorant, purchasing a subscription is the way to go….especially if you are a capitalist. Aside from that, there is always a daytrip to a local university library where paper copies of papers are likely to exist.

    On paywalls (I don’t the refs) research has shown open access journals are more likely to have dodgy papers slipping through. Perhaps other commenters have the links to those stings?

  11. uknowispeaksense says: “On paywalls (I don’t the refs) research has shown open access journals are more likely to have dodgy papers slipping through. Perhaps other commenters have the links to those stings?”

    Research by a pay-wall publisher has shown that if you send bogus manuscripts to many (unknown) open-access journal including to a list of known predatory publishers, they are really predatory publishers that do not care about their reputation and do not perform the promised peer review, but only about the fees an open-access author typically has to pay.

    The serious open-access journals in meteorology and climatology are just as good as comparable pay-walled journals. As always, you have to know your field and how good which journal is.

  12. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, from where I’m sitting the main distortions of what peer review is all about emanate from Skeptical Science, which has, from its earliest beginnings, worshipped^Wpresented peer review as the hallmark of infallible scientific truth. As you say, it is nothing of the kind.

    *

    The hard sciences aren’t the only recipients of climate change-related research funding. The arts and social sciences get plenty – indeed the various funding bodies seem to have it coming out of their ears.

    Here’s an example I chanced upon last week. As an outsider to grants panels, academic hiring practices and the like, I was shocked. After doing a bit of reading, I found that the AHRC doesn’t mind if research fellows ignore their grant proposals and just follow their noses, researchwise, and that the AHRC isn’t at all interested in research outputs (it wants to foster research communities, or something). This quietened some of my outrage about what had seemed a case of monstrous piss-taking on the part of the grantee but made me wonder whether the AHRC is itself a monstrous institutionalised piss-take.

    But I’m sure you’ll put me right.

    The example:

    In 2006, the AHRC paid a best-selling novelist £235,199.87 (couldn’t they have bunged him another 13p to keep things tidy?) to spend four years researching his next novel. Teaching wasn’t part of the deal. The money was to be a salary that would free him from worldly concerns while he pondered his next novel.

    In his grant application, the author said that he was then completing a novel about a pacifist weather forecaster in World War Two. He also mentioned that his most successful book was being turned into a film and would be released shortly.

    The new novel he wanted to research would be, he said, about climate and weather as metaphors for the interactions between race, class, migration, terrorism, empire and the environment in modern London.

    The grant ended a year early, shortly after the publication of the novel about the WW2 weather forecaster. The author now claims this novel as the research output of his AHRC grant, which he now says was paid to fund research into the language of climate change and the financial crisis – topics that are a long way from both his original proposal and the subject of his supposed research output, to wit the book about the WW2 weather forecaster. (Though I haven’t read the WW2 book yet.) The book about post-colonial London’s cultural climate and weather has yet to appear – indeed he seems to have abandoned it. (A pity. He’s a great writer and he has been pondering such themes since the early ’90s.)

    So. Can someone better versed in the ways of academe please tell me why this isn’t wrong: the govt gives someone a quarter of a million to research A and he uses the money to look at B then claims as the result of looking at B something about C that he had nearly finished before he got the money to look at A and whose only commonality with A and B is a bit of sciencey noodling about weather.

    (OK. It’s Giles Foden, son-in-law of Lord Hunt, brother-in-law of Tristram Hunt and until now one of my favourite writers. Here’s his grant proposal: http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/project/3A246F65-CBEF-43D0-8444-6F5E0C1AF758)

  13. Wotts, from where I’m sitting the main distortions of what peer review is all about emanate from Skeptical Science, which has, from its earliest beginnings, worshipped^Wpresented peer review as the hallmark of infallible scientific truth. As you say, it is nothing of the kind.

    You’re wrong to imply that Skeptical Science disagrees with Anders’ article. I’m an SkS author, and in 2009, I made these comments which seem similar to Anders’ comments:

    “I do have problems with modern peer review; it’s usually single-blind when it should be double-blind, and less than a dozen people usually review each paper. Here’s an excellent site with more criticisms of peer review. Personally, I’d like to see peer review completely automated by a system similar to “recommender systems” currently being implemented on P2P networks. This way, all scientists could rate each paper they read. That would allow more alternative views into the community, and prevent a few people with chips on their shoulders from dominating any debate. But right now the alternative to peer review is “no peer review” which is much worse.”

  14. Vinny Burgoo says:

    DS, you and other authors at SkS may have reservations about the mechanics of peer review but the whole tone of the place was set by argumentam-ad-peerreviewedlitritchure. If something had appeared in the PRL then it was meet and right and every after, amen.

  15. AnOilMan says:

    Vinny Burgoo: What a load of hogwash. Is your argument that if some funding went to the arts, that somehow this is all some conspiracy and all of climate science is some how wrong? How did you make the miraculous leap to think that this has anything to do with Skeptical Science?

    My wife publishes frequently and often. The process being described here is exactly what she goes through each and every time.

    The simple reality is that there are no scientists publishing with your predefined political bias, even though there are journals which will pal review them and print them. This process has worked for Craig Loehle and he was taken seriously… Yet the rest just can’t seem to write or something. But they can blog… Who are they blogging to? the public… the scientifically illiterate… the politically motivated…

    Here’s what happens without peer review (yeah… hogwash got published);
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

  16. Vinny Burgoo says:

    AOM: ‘Is your argument that if some funding went to the arts, that somehow this is all some conspiracy and all of climate science is some how wrong? ‘

    No. I am entirely orthodox about the hard science view of climate change.

  17. Orthodox, like worship, isn’t scientific. The hard science view can be summarized as “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

  18. Some of the problems of peer review are discussed on twitter with the hashtag #SixWordPeerReview.

    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SixWordPeerReview&src=hash

  19. Vinny,
    What I think you’re suggesting is that it’s wrong for someone to apply for a research grant to do a particular project and then end up doing something different. One thing to bear in mind is that the researcher is not responding to a tender. The research councils don’t propose projects that researchers then bid to do. The researchers propose the work and submit the grant application for assessment.

    So, most research councils have no problem with researchers ultimately doing something slightly different to what they propose. One reason is simply that it can take more than a year to assess and fund a grant, so things can change. In many research areas, things can go wrong or the original idea might turn out to have issues. It’s mean to be cutting edge. If you knew it was going to work without any problems, it’s probably not a very interesting project.

    Having said that, there are strong boundaries. In my experience, it’s always been within a relatively well-defined subfield. So, a particle physicist could not suddenly decide they want to study biophysics (for example). But, no research council I’ve ever encountered would expect a researcher to stick precisely to the letter of their proposal.

    Whether or not the example you give is one that would be regarded as acceptable or not, I really don’t know. I’m not familiar with the ethos of the AHRC.

    As far as SkS, I would be very surprised to discover that they worship peer-review. I don’t think anyone with experience of it would do so. It’s just better than the alternative (as DumbSci suggests).

  20. For Vinny, here’s a cartoon illustrating how grant funding should work compared to how it actually works. Hope this clears everything up :-)

    Grant funding illustration

  21. OPatrick says:

    Wotts, from where I’m sitting the main distortions of what peer review is all about emanate from Skeptical Science, which has, from its earliest beginnings, worshipped^Wpresented peer review as the hallmark of infallible scientific truth.

    Vinny starts his first comment with a ludicrous claim. In my view he should not get any response to any potentially valid arguments until he either argues this point in a reasonable way (which I suspect is not going to be possible for him to do) or withdraws his claim and ideally apologises for it. There are possible valid criticisms of Sceptical Science, but a blanket accusation like this is utterly unjustifiable and infantile.

  22. OPatrick,
    Yes, you make a valid point. I should have read the beginning of Vinny’s comment more carefully. Plus, so far, it’s at least been possible to have a pleasant discussion with Vinny, so maybe I’m cutting more slack than I should.

    Vinny, would you care to back up your claim that SkS worships peer review and regards it as the hallmark of infallible scientific truth. Hard to see how anyone who has published a paper would ever think that, so I would be surprised if that was their view.

  23. pbjamm says:

    What Vinny sees as worship of peer review I see as an insistence on reliable sources. If you go n there (or here for that matter) and make an outrageous claim you need to back it up with a source. If your source is Some Guy at the coffee shop and mine is a peer reviewed paper which carries more weight?

  24. Vinny Burgoo says:

    pbjamm, usually it’ll be the peer-reviewed paper, natch. But the problem, as I saw it, at SkS was that peer-reviewed papers were being put up as proof of this and that without any attempt to evaluate their credibility. If a peer-reviewed paper existed that said something scary then that meant it was a ‘peer-reviewed scientific fact’ (I don’t know if anyone at SkS ever used that exact phrase; I thought they had but it turns out I was remembering an exchange with Greenpeace) whether or not the research was representative, an outlier, current, superseded, fairly solid, speculative, super-dooper or badly flawed. Scary and in the pirravewdlitritchure? Then it’s what the science says, dudes.

    However… I do concede that those observations are based on experiences of how SkS was a few years ago, so might no longer hold. They are also based on how SkS dealt with climate change impacts, which it wasn’t (probably still isn’t) very interested in. I have no idea whether similar attitudes propped up the coverage of the WG1 stuff that was its main interest.

    Dumb Scientist, “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable” is not a statement from or about science, hard or otherwise, but I’m sure you knew that.

    Wotts, thanks for the explanation of why researchers might legitimately change direction after a grant has been awarded – and for the cartoon. The lower panel looks to be pretty much what happened with Foden’s fellowship. (Although it of course doesn’t touch on the weirdness of a commercially successful novelist being paid by the state to monkey about like that for ends that… remain obscure.)

  25. Vinny,
    I’d be surprised if SkS (in general at least) ever believed that an individual piece of peer-reviewed work was an infallible piece of science.

    Something I should add is that in the case you describe, it sounds like the author didn’t produce much writing during the period of his grant. In the sciences, it may be that by the time the grant actually starts (as I said it can take more than 12 months between submission of a proposal and the time when you get the money) you’ve already done some of what you proposed to do. However, if you then proceeded to do nothing else, you’d find it hard to get the next grant. So, although you may already have done some of the work and you may end up doing something different, if you end up having a period where you aren’t very productive, you’ll find it very difficult to get further funding.

  26. A real skeptic would either retract the baseless accusation of peer review worship, or support it with something more than hand waving. A real skeptic would’ve followed the indisputable link, considered the scientific evidence they reference, and explain why hand waving is more credible than the National Academy of Sciences.

  27. OPatrick says:

    Vinny simply repeats his nonsense claim with more verbiage but no evidence or coherent argument.

  28. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Testing….

  29. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Vinny, as another SkS author (and academic), I’d say you had not grasped the point of peer review. It is merely a basic sanity check that the paper *probably* doesn’t have an *obvious* methodological flaw or other such problem. It provides no guarantee. It isn’t a big hurdle to get over if you can provide valid theory and/or solid observational or experimental evidence. Now if a theory cannot be written up in such a way that it can overcome this low hurdle, I’d say that we should be rather skeptical about it. That’s all there is to it, it is a system that has served science rather well.

    Now *after* peer review comes the real test, which is whether the research community finds it interesting and takes it up and uses it. This is indicated by the number of citations. Well cited papers are generally reliable and good pieces of work. THAT is the real test.

  30. BillD says:

    Here’s a comment on peer review and an argument against having large numbers of readers/reviewers check off opinions. Two main roles for peer review are to provide expert opinion for editors and to provide comments on general and specific weaknesses for the authors. When I receive a review, I expect that the reviewers should be familiar with the topic and many of the cited articles. I look forward to receiving construction criticism even though sometimes it feels like the reviewers are too picky. When I provide a review I often spend 6 or more hours of focused work reading, thinking and writing about the manuscript. I always read the whole manuscript at least twice, usually at different times and then go through again to look at my comments on the pages. If I knew that there would be, say, 10 reviewers, I would not be willing to provide such an in depth and time consuming review. Both authors and editors are better off receiving a few (2-4) reviews from experts who take their task seriously. If the authors and editors don’t do their jobs, than other readers will have a chance to judge the published study.

  31. BillD,
    I hadn’t specifically thought of that. I agree though. If I knew there were plenty of other people likely to review something, then I wouldn’t put in as much effort. In fact, in my experience in academia, if something like this was implemented, noone would do any reviewing as they would all think “someone else will do it” :-)

  32. Reblogged this on And Then There's Physics and commented:

    Given the interest in Philip Moriarty’s post about how universities incentivise academics to short change the public, and because I’m away on a trip and am too lazy to write something new :-) , I thought I may simply repost something that I wrote that may be relevant. The motivation behind my post is somewhat to different to that behind Philip’s, but I think some of what I say is relevant. I would add, though, that if I was writing something related to what Philip Moriarty was highlighting, I may have been much more critical than this post of mine may indicate. I think what Philip Moriarty and others (David Colqhoun being another) are highlighting is extremely worrying and I really think we should be doing all we can to avoid universities becoming places where research and teaching are simply seen as activities that generate income, rather than activities that are intrinsically valuable.

  33. John Mashey says:

    1) Pal review: as best as I can tell, the idea of throwing that complaint at climate scientists came from Pat Michaels during discussion with McIntyre & McKitrick @ George Marshall Institute, Nov 18, 2003, p.23.
    “Question: Pat Michaels, University of Virginia. I think what you’re really uncovering here is a larger and pervasive problem in science, which is the peer-review process seems to be missing important and obvious issues, perhaps failing because of the sociology of global warming science. …”

    2) McIntyre & McKitrick picked up that meme, and the idea was behind the msierably-flawed Social Network Analysis in the Wegman Report.

    3) It was claimed for Climategate, regarding Soon & Baliunas paper in Climate Research via Chris de Freitas.

    4) Michaels used that meme, as in Peer Review And ‘Pal Review’ In Climate Science”>Peer Review and ‘Pal Review’ in Climate Science.

    5) And of course, the scientists complaining about de Freitas and Climate Research were not only right, but I don’t think they then realized the extent of the problem. See Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003 or the version at SkS by dana1981 and I, Pal Review – the True Story and the Fairy Tale. Pat was the King of the Pals, in terms of # papers.
    (Of course, these days I’d write the more accurate “pseudoskeptics”.

    The idea that anybody actually involved with peer review thinks it’s perfect is another strawman, like CAGW.

  34. John Mashey says:

    Anti-university expression is pervasive in dismissive blogs, see this, for a small sample:

    ‘Academe, generally
    Australian unis are just degree factories; centers of conspiracy departments; scurrilous ethics and outrageous behavior of academia; That sums up just about ALL universities in the Western world all Marxist, all totalitarian regimes where no dissent is allowed.; UEA or U of East Anglia;
    utopian Gaia loving professors; very dim view of universities and the people who work for them; Whitewash Mann or Jones; worldwide laughing stock’
    The list for Macquarie Unviersity was much longer.

    Universities are no more perfect than any other human institution, and just as variable, but “hate academe and defund it” seems a recurrent theme.

  35. John,

    “hate academe and defund it”

    Indeed, but what I think they either don’t realise (or don’t want to realise) is that defunding universities and making them perform more like businesses (rather than like institutes that are there fore the benefit of society) will likely create more of the problems that they claim exist today.

  36. John Mashey says:

    I don’t have enough data to distinguish, but whether or not they’d realize the likely effects, or want those effects, it’s pretty clear that many would be quite happy to zero any public funding of climate science in universities or government research agencies.

    The SalbyStorm text corpus often included discourse on universities, (search for universit: 1300 hits, funding is another good search) of which a tiny sample is below.
    The +/- numbers are upvotes and downvotes): these sentiments were popular.

    02{Eric Worrall} #2
    July 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm · +68 -1
    Absolutely shocking – from reading the article, Macquarie appear to have lied, stolen equipment, sabotaged research – and our tax money pays for all this? Time for Universities to solicit their own funding, based on merit, rather than suckling at the public teat.

    ’02{Allen Ford} #11
    July 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm · +12 -0
    This is appalling. Seems like MacU has joined that illustrious band of thrid rate degree factories such as James Cook, UWA, UEA,Penn State and doubtless many others.
    Joolya had the right idea in stripping them of funding in favour of Gonski, not that that would have made any difference to the academic standards of schools.
    Universites will never recover until they can get rid of the manic bean counting administrators and the pimply faced high school students masquerading as senior academics.’

    ’02{Sean} #2.1
    July 10, 2013 at 7:38 am · +18 -0
    This “university” should have its public funding pulled and their charter as a university revoked.
    Its president should be fired, along with the department head who colluded in this.’

    ’02{Maverick} #7.2
    July 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm · +11 -0
    Here is a cost saving idea, get rid of the CSIRO. They may have stumbles across some wireless technology many years ago, but they have simply become a collection of back-stabbing, lying, self interested fiefdoms.

    ’02{Bulldust} #7.2.1
    July 10, 2013 at 7:46 am · +4 -0
    You just described most government and educational institutions perfectly.’

    02{Eric Worrall} #8
    July 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm · +24 -0
    Why don’t scientists who have been mistreated by publicly funded science institutes band together, set up their own privately funded institutes? There are plenty of groups who would happily contribute to such an effort. And we’d soon see which produced the better quality research.

    02{A.D. Everard} #8.1.1
    July 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm · +13 -0
    I’ve been thinking the self same thing. That’s exactly what’s needed. I think quite a few would jump across, too, finding – at last – a place of true science again. The remaining universities would empty rapidly, or pull their act together if they found their professors and students jumping ship! It’s time for fresh blood and new establishments.’

    ’02{Niff} #21
    July 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm · +14 -0
    Utterly machiavelian. I have been thinking for some time now that the funding of universities has got to the point where the whole festering mass needs to be scrapped and restarted with a view to preventing the power structures, fiefdoms, pal review networks, and selection processes that perpetuate exactly what we funded them NOT to do. IOW search for truth and discovery, not politics.’

  37. nobodyknows says:

    [Mod: This is a bit provocative. Climate change does not depend on "belief" but rather a strong body of evidence]

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