Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Last week, lawyer Rud Istevan  rose to the defense of “Why models run hot, results from an irreducibly simple climate model”  by  Willie Soon  et.al which appeared in the Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Istevan says it

" has created quite a kerfuffle. There was initial dismissal: it was claimed that Science Bulletin is an obscure journal with lax review standards, so the paper is no good. Bulletin turned out to be the Chinese equivalent of Science or Nature. "
In my view- and I have read the paper and examined the readership and impact stats on the journal, this is a frankly absurd characterization. 

Istvan's host Judith Curry asks:
” Have worse papers been published in prestige U.S/EU journals? 

And answers:"Yes.”
Which less recalls Sturgeon’s Iron Law of Scientific Publication:
“Ninety per cent of published papers are crap” 
Than  Minsky’s Corollary-- the famed computer scientist  replied to the science fiction writer:   ”So are 95% of the remainder.”
Still, science happens, and rigorous application of  Sturgeon's Law  to the most cited climate science papers of the present age, still produces a hefty pile of 21st century published Must Reads  from the thousands actively researching the field:

In startling contrast, those seriously contesting the state of the art in  climate science number only in the single digits, a statistic the best efforts  of a brigade of PR flacks has failed to change since the Black Friday in 2008  when a thousand dollar honorarium & all expenses paid failed to rally two dozen PhD's to the Rejectionist banner in New York. (Andy Revkin counted 20 at that inaugural Heartland Conference.)

At the skeptics present rate of  scholarly publication,  several  doublings of  CO2 may pass before they publish enough research to produce one article transcending Sturgeon's Law, and provocative enough to earn widespead citation by authors other than themselves-- something they have yet to achieve outside the comment columns of the blogosphere.

Forget the temperature doldrums- the real pause haunting  the Climate Wars is the lack of intellectually serious skeptical publications since Richard Lindzen retired.

The contrarians' failure to find a heavy hitter to replace him threatens their policy agenda far more than the leisurely pace of climate change threatens their culturally entrenched opponents.
If Istvan asks around China and Cambridge, he'll discover that what Soon's former boss observed in 2013 :
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center’s former director, Harvard astronomy professor Irwin Shapiro, said there was never any attempt to censor Soon’s views. Nor, he said, was Soon the subject of complaints or concern among the 300 scientists at the center.

“As far as I can tell,’’ said Shapiro, “no one pays any attention to him.’’
applies almost equally to  Science Bulletin.  

Because  however  worthy some of its offerings may be , Science Bulletin  is about as far-famed as Soon's real academic home-- he's an Adjunct Professor at the University of Putra in Buntulu, Malaysia.
 Patriotic Sarawakns may reckon Putra U  the Harvard of Borneo,  but if science citation metrics areanything to go by,  the Chinese equivalents of  Science and Nature are Science and Nature.