There’s a new paper on public understanding of science called Communicating science in public controversies: Strategic considerations of the German climate scientists. Andrew Montford has already concluded that:
scientivists have so completely corrupted the field that it is now largely unreliable.
If you read only the abstract, you might think he has a point, as it says
Asking scientists about their readiness to publish one of two versions of a fictitious research finding shows that their concerns weigh heavier when a result implies that climate change will proceed slowly than when it implies that climate change will proceed fast.
So, scientists might be more reluctant to publish something if the results suggest that climate change will proceed slowly, than if it suggests it will proceed fast?
Well, no, that isn’t what the paper illustrates at all. What the paper did was to consider a scenario in which a scientist has already published a paper that suggests climate change will be slower than or faster than expected. They then asked a group of German climate scientists to consider this scenario and to then rate a set of concerns related to publicising this research in the media. They were rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being that the concern was relevant and 5 being irrelevant. The concerns included the work being misrepresented, it leading to unnecessary criticism from colleagues, and it putting the credibility of climate science at risk.
The results are shown in the table below. In all cases, the results suggests that most regard the concerns as being closer to irrelevant then relevant. I can’t find any mention of uncertainties, but the slower than and faster than results seem quite similar. It seems that most regarded concerns about putting the credibilty of climate science at risk, and bringing too much uncertainty to the debate, as being largely irrelevant.
There is, however, a suggestion that some regarded the work being misrepresented as being a relevant concern, and a suggestion that it would be more relevant if the work suggested climate change would be slower than expected, than if it suggested it would be faster than expected. In other words, they might be more concerned about the work being misrepresented by people like Andrew Montford, than by those who are concerned about the risks associated with climate change. It’s possibly somewhat ironic, then, that Andrew Montford appears to have misrepresented this paper. However, it might also be somewhat ironic that the abstract of a paper discussing how science might be misrepresented in the media, manages to write an abstract that is so easily interpreted in a way that misrepresents what the paper actually says.