Nobel Laureates who have been pushing the genetically modified organism agenda deep into scientific circles are being lambasted by a group called the Union of Latin American Scientists Committed to Society and Nature (UCCSN-AL).
A whopping third of Nobel laureates recently slammed Greenpeace for its anti-GM campaign, claiming that the issues which Greenpeace has highlighted “misrepresent the risks, benefits, and impacts” of genetically altered plants.
The UCCSN-AL thinks we should be aware of the true aims of companies like Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow Agrochemical, and others, even with glowing reviews from signatories who make GM-promoting claims without data to back them up.
Whether the public at large will take any anti-GM advice based simply on the Nobel pedigree remains to be seen, especially considering that email trails recently revealed that many high-level professors at universities and scientific journals were either bribed or funded by Dow, Syngenta, Monsanto, Bayer AG, and other chemical-ag champions.
The public reprimand against these laureates concerns transgenic crops, and ‘Golden Rice,’ a highly touted Gates Foundation experiment which has been proven to be deceptive in its claims to help feed the world and stop Vitamin A deficits in poor populations. Truly, if the aim of the Gates Foundation and other corporations was to stop hunger and end vitamin deficiency, why would they continue to patent crops which have been shown to have lower levels of the vitamins and essential minerals that humans need for better health? Many transgenic crops are known as chelators of important minerals from the soil itself.
The Gates’ argue,
“The foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and partners to develop Golden Rice, a type of rice that contains beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This grant builds on previous foundation funding, and supports a range of activities to develop Golden Rice varieties that are suited for the Philippines and Bangladesh. It is hoped that Golden Rice will help improve the health of millions of children and adults across the Philippines and Bangladesh.”
However, detractors attest that a simple Vitamin A supplement would be cheaper, easier to provide, and would not require patented, transgenic seed. There is also the suspicion that since rice is a staple food in more than two thirds of the world, that the monopolization by genetically modified rice seed would obliterate ancient varieties, making farmers and those they feed reliant upon GM companies for food.
Similarly, 59 varieties of indigenous corn were recently put at risk in Mexico by the same type of campaign to push ‘much needed GM food’ onto people who were already feeding themselves without it.
The UCCSN-AL states in reference to these transgenic crops,
“[Transgenesis] cannot be considered an advanced science anymore because it is based on fallacious and anachronistic assumptions. Its defenders have oversimplified the scientific rationale behind GMOs to the point that the technology cannot be considered valid anymore: they have discarded rigorous science. The lack of scientific ground that justifies GMOs is also the reason why its promoters deny complex systems of knowledge, such as indigenous peoples’ cultures and livelihoods. Transgenic technology is the geopolitical instrument for colonial domination of our time.”
The UCCSN-AL continues,
“Scientific work must be developed with ethical responsibility and it must be committed to nature and society, and because of that, we reject the concepts stated in the letter and denounce the genocidal role of industrial farming based on GM crops, and we stress the need to defend, promote, and multiply the modes of food production that were culturally developed by the peoples of our region, and therefore are vital to ensure autonomy, environmental sustainability, safety and food sovereignty.”
Furthermore, the premise upon which Golden Rice was developed is provably false. Most genetically modified crops are grown to feed animal livestock and corn ethanol as a subsidized ‘alternative’ fuel for oil companies. These crops aren’t being developed to feed the world, but to feed the greed of elite corporate families which have no interest in whether a child in Bangladesh goes blind, or a food production system robs indigenous groups of ancient farming techniques which yield bumper crops of non-GM food.
If you want an autonomously-fed society, you don’t give them Golden Rice. A thousand Nobel winners that have been paid by the industry to say GMOs are good, likely won’t sway indigenous farmers away from their current opinion.
Time’s up, so-called Professor Wadhams.
It is now exactly four years ago that you forecast the demise of Arctic sea ice this summer:
One of the world’s leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years.
In what he calls a “global disaster” now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for “urgent” consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures.
In an email to the Guardian he says: “Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades’ time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward.”
So, what does the Arctic actually look like now?
Of course, this was not the first time you made a fool of yourself, was it? At various times in the last few years, you have issued many predictions of ice free Arctics by 2013, and then 2015.
Even as recently as June this year, you were still forecasting:
“The Arctic is on track to be free of sea ice this year or next for the first time in more than 100,000 years”
Be honest. You are not actually very good at your job, are you?
The folks who make their living by hyping the supposed threat of runaway global warming use a lot of scary language in the process. Here the ever creative New York Times has set what may be a new standard in scary climate change hype, by tying it to the Zika outbreak.
In our Framework Analysis of Federal Funding-induced Biases we point to the press exaggerating unproven scientific hypotheses that support government policies. Policies that depend on scaring people are especially subject to this kind of press bias. The NYT has provided a fine example of this sort of scientific distortion, one that is worth analyzing to see just how the game is played. Not surprisingly, they do this in what they call a “Science” article.
It begins with this ever so scary headline:
Zika itself is pretty scary, so that sets the stage. They then combine this with “epidemic” and “a Warning on Climate Change.” So instead of unsubstantiated possibilities we now have warnings and threats. This is a rhetorical flourish that we have not seen before, especially warnings.
Note that most people will only read this headline, which contains no science whatsoever. They will be told, falsely, that the Zika outbreak is a warning of a supposed climate change threat.
Beyond the scary headline, the article itself is a study in rhetorical structure. It begins with innuendo and ends with standard speculation, but in between it manages to provide some solid science regarding several mosquito borne diseases. The latter is to the effect that these various disease outbreaks and increases are likely due to increased urbanization. You would never guess this from the headline or the first paragraph, which uses a question to make an accusation, a classic form of innuendo:
“The global public health emergency involving deformed babies emerged in 2015, the hottest year in the historical record, with an outbreak in Brazil of a disease transmitted by heat-loving mosquitoes. Can that be a coincidence?”
The answer turns out to be probably, but it takes a lot of reading to realize this. Even worse, the article simply assumes that there will be extensive future warming, all due to human emissions. None of this is known to be true, or even likely. In fact this is a standard rhetorical set piece. Assume great human-induced global warming and prophesy the worst.
Not surprisingly the key prophesying quotation comes from an activist-scientist at the National Science Foundation-funded Nation Center for Atmospheric Research. NSF is the Obama Administration’s leading proponent of the unconfirmed hypothesis that human emissions are creating dangerous global warming. NCAR has even issued a Zika forecast for 50 US cities, based as usual on an unverified computer model.
We also get a juicy quote from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which assumes that a warmer and wetter world lies ahead. What happened to those pesky droughts?
They even throw in a picture of a sick baby and a Brazilian with dengue (not Zika). In our view tying this hyperbolic “climate change threat” rhetoric to the real misery created by Zika and related diseases is simply despicable.
The National Institute of Standards & technology (NIST) was engaged by Congress and by FEMA, shortly after the events of 9/11, to produce a report on the destruction of the three WTC towers.
While it did pursue some initial real-world experimentation (which should be discussed in turn), NIST built its conclusions on the collapse primarily on the basis of computer models.
It follows their conclusions can only be as good as those models.
Let me explain first how a predictive computer model works. It’s virtual reality. If you are building a model to predict anything from the stock market to building collapses you are essentially telling a computer a set of rules that enable it to construct a real-world simulation of your money markets or your building. The most important thing to understand is the result you get is only as reliable as the data you input, because computers are quick but not smart.
If you input garbage, you will output garbage. If you punch in wrong values a computer won’t realise they make no sense, it will just run its program with those values and produce a result that has no connection to the real world, and can even be downright ridiculous. There’s no fail-safe or common sense override. Punch the wrong data into your computer model and you will get “proof” cars can drive on water, or birds can fly through solid rock.
Any computer model of anything is only as good as the parameters fed into it.
NIST’s models can’t be assessed independently as a whole because NIST refuses to release any data about them. Their claimed reason for this is that releasing the docs might endanger national security. However NIST did disclose some limited information about their parameters in the body of their reports, most perturbing and inexplicable of which is their acknowledgement they assigned all the steel in their WTC model a thermal conductivity of zero, or close to zero.
To explain to a non-science-based readership what that means, just consider what you would expect to happen if you placed one end of a steel bar in a fire and kept hold of the other end. Would you expect:
A) the end you were holding to gradually heat up to the point you could not keep it in your hand?
B) the end you were holding to remain cool no matter how hot the end in the fire becomes?
Believe it or not, NIST chose the second option. Here it is in their own words:
“The steel was assumed in the FDS model to be thermally-thin, thus, no thermal conductivity was used.” NCSTAR 1-5F, p 20
“The interior walls [including insulated steel columns] were assumed to have the properties of gypsum board [0.5 W/m/K].” NCSTAR 1-5F, p 52
“Although the floor slab actually consisted of a metal deck topped with a concrete slab… the thermal properties of the entire floor slab were assumed to be that of concrete [1.0 W/m/K].” NCSTAR 1-5F, p 52
You don’t need to be a professional scientist to know this is bunkum and a total disregard of basic physics.
Why does this matter? It matters a LOT. Changing the assumed conductivity of steel from its actual figure to zero would allow the model to produce much higher temperatures in the steel directly exposed to fire than would be possible in reality. It’s like calculating the amount of water you could get into a sieve at any one time by assuming the sieve has no holes. The model will show the sieve can be filled to the brim, but that is just so much garbage with no real-world application.
Just so with the temperatures of the steel. NIST needed to produce a model that allowed cool office fires of around 800deg to somehow produce enough heat in localised areas to weaken and buckle steel girders and struts. If they’d allowed the steel to behave normally and wick the heat away along its length they simply could not achieve this aim. Only by turning the assumed thermal conductivity to zero (the equivalent of assuming the sieve has no holes) could they get their model to create enough heat to do the buckling and weakening.
This is a huge problem. In fact it could not be a bigger problem. This bogus assumption that steel has zero thermal conductivity not only renders the NIST report as a whole deeply suspect, it entirely nullifies even the flawed basis for its “collapse by fire” hypothesis.
This is why so many scientists are calling for another investigation. They aren’t saying the gumment did it, they aren’t claiming a conspiracy, they just see huge errors in the previous investigation and want more work to be done.
Bottom line is NIST punched in false data that totally invalidated their model. The zero thermal conductivity issue alone is sufficient grounds for a new investigation.
This article is based on a comment LG posted on another 9/11 thread. We welcome replies and rebuttals, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, marked “9/11”
David Chandler, physics teacher and member of AE9/11 Truth describes the journey toward NIST’s public admission that their initial calculations were incorrect and that WTC7’s first eight floors did descend at free-fall speed.
I’m having another “Alice down the rabbit hole” moment, in response to the Scientific American article, the explication of the article by its author Michael Lemonick, Scientific American’s survey on whether I am a dupe or a peacemaker, and the numerous discussions in blogosphere.
My first such moment was in 2005 in response to the media attention associated with the hurricane wars, which was described in a Q&A with Keith Kloor at collide-a-scape. While I really want to make this blog about the science and not about personalities (and especially not about me), this article deserves a response.
The title of the article itself is rather astonishing. The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.” The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.” Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma. If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic. The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma.
And what exactly is the nature of my challenges to the dogma? Lemonick made the following statement: ““What I found out is that when [Curry] does raise valid points, they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with — and many climate scientists are scratching their heads at the implication that she’s uncovered some dark secret.” This statement implies that I am saying nothing new, nothing that climate scientists don’t already know. Well that is mostly true (an exception being my recent blog series on uncertainty); I am mostly saying things that are blindingly obvious to everyone. Sort of like in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” A colleague of mine at Georgia Tech, a Chair from a different department, said something like this: “I’ve been reading the media stories on the Georgia Tech Daily News Buzz that mention your statements. Your statements seem really sensible. But what I don’t understand is why such statements are regarded as news?”
Well that is a question that deserves an answer. I lack the hubris to think that my statements should have any public importance. The fact that they seem to be of some importance says a lot more about the culture of climate science and its perception by the public, than it says about me.
Why am I being singled out here? Richard Lindzen and Roger Pielke Sr. have been making far more critical statements about the IPCC and climate science for a longer period than I have. And both score higher than me in the academic pecking order (in terms of number of publications and citations and external peer recognition).
The answer must be in the narrative of my transition from a “high priestess of global warming” to engagement with skeptics and a critic of the IPCC. The “high priestess of global warming” narrative (I used to see this term fairly frequently in the blogosphere, can’t spot it now) arose from my association with the hurricane and global warming issue, which at the time was the most alarming issue associated with global warming.
The overall evolution of my thinking on global warming is described in the Q&A at collide-a-scape (the relevant statements are appended at the end of this post.) My thinking and evolution on this issue since 11/19/09 deserves further clarification. When I first started reading the CRU emails, my reaction was a visceral one. While my colleagues seemed focused on protecting the reputations of the scientists involved and assuring people that the “science hadn’t changed,” I immediately realized that this could bring down the IPCC. I became concerned about the integrity of our entire field: both the actual integrity and its public perception. When I saw how the IPCC was responding and began investigating the broader allegations against the IPCC, I became critical of the IPCC and tried to make suggestions for improving the IPCC. As glaring errors were uncovered (especially the Himalayan glaciers) and the IPCC failed to respond, I started to question whether it was possible to salvage the IPCC and whether it should be salvaged. In the meantime, the establishment institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere were mostly silent on the topic.
In Autumn 2005, I had decided that the responsible thing to do in making public statements on the subject of global warming was to adopt the position of the IPCC. My decision was based on two reasons: 1) the subject was very complex and I had personally investigated a relatively small subset of the topic; 2) I bought into the meme of “don’t trust what one scientist says, trust what thousands of IPCC scientists say.” A big part of my visceral reaction to events unfolding after 11/19 was concern that I had been duped into supporting the IPCC, and substituting their judgment for my own in my public statements on the subject. So that is the “dupe” part of all this, perhaps not what Lemonick had in mind.
If, how, and why I had been duped by the IPCC became an issue of overwhelming personal and professional concern. I decided that there were two things that I could do: 1) speak out publicly and try to restore integrity to climate science by increasing transparency and engaging with skeptics; and 2) dig deeply into the broader aspects of the science and the IPCC’s arguments and try to assess the uncertainty. The Royal Society Workshop on Handling Uncertainty in Science last March motivated me to take on #2 in a serious way. I spent all summer working on a paper entitled “Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster,” which was submitted to a journal in August. I have no idea what the eventual fate of this paper will be, but it has seeded the uncertainty series on Climate Etc. and its fate seems almost irrelevant at this point.
There are some parallels between the “McIntyre monster” and the “Curry monster.” The monster status derives from our challenges to the IPCC science and the issue of uncertainty. While the McIntyre monster is far more prominent in the public debate, the Curry monster seems far more irksome to community insiders. The CRU emails provide ample evidence of the McIntyre monster, and in the wake of the CRU emails I saw a discussion at RealClimate about the unbridled power of Steve McIntyre. Evidence of the Curry monster is provided by this statement in Lemonick’s article: “What scientists worry is that such exposure means Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years.” This sense of McIntyre and myself as having “power” seems absurd to me (and probably to Steve), but it seems real to some people.
Well, who created these “monsters?” Big oil and the right-wing ideologues? Wrong. It was the media, climate activists, and the RealClimate wing of the blogosphere (note, the relative importance of each is different for McIntyre versus myself). I wonder if the climate activists will ever learn, or if they will follow the pied piper of the merchants of doubt meme into oblivion.
A note to my critics in the climate science community
Let me preface my statement by saying that at this point, I am pretty much immune to criticisms from my peers regarding my behavior and public outreach on this topic (I respond to any and all criticisms of my arguments that are specifically addressed to me.) If you think that I am a big part of the cause of the problems you are facing, I suggest that you think about this more carefully. I am doing my best to return some sanity to this situation and restore science to a higher position than the dogma of consensus. You may not like it, and my actions may turn out to be ineffective, futile, or counterproductive in the short or long run, by whatever standards this whole episode ends up getting judged. But this is my carefully considered choice on what it means to be a scientist and to behave with personal and professional integrity.
Let me ask you this. So how are things going for you lately? A year ago, the climate establishment was on top of the world, masters of the universe. Now we have a situation where there have been major challenges to the reputations of a number of a number of scientists, the IPCC, professional societies, and other institutions of science. The spillover has been a loss of public trust in climate science and some have argued, even more broadly in science. The IPCC and the UNFCCC are regarded by many as impediments to sane and politically viable energy policies. The enviro advocacy groups are abandoning the climate change issue for more promising narratives. In the U.S., the prospect of the Republicans winning the House of Representatives raises the specter of hearings on the integrity of climate science and reductions in federal funding for climate research.
What happened? Did the skeptics and the oil companies and the libertarian think tanks win? No, you lost. All in the name of supporting policies that I don’t think many of you fully understand. What I want is for the climate science community to shift gears and get back to doing science, and return to an environment where debate over the science is the spice of academic life. And because of the high relevance of our field, we need to figure out how to provide the best possible scientific information and assessment of uncertainties. This means abandoning this religious adherence to consensus dogma.
Addendum: reproduced from my Q&A at collide-a-scape
“Circa 2003, I was concerned about the way climate research was treating uncertainty (see my little essay presented to the NRC Climate Research Committee).
I was considered somewhat quixotic but not really outside of the mainstream (p.s. the CRC didn’t pay any attention to my essay, they went off in a different direction that focused on communicating uncertainty and decisionmaking under uncertainty). During this period, I was comfortably ensconced in the ivory tower of academia, writing research papers, going to conferences, submitting grant proposals. I was 80% oblivious to what was going on in terms of the public debate surrounding climate change.
This all changed on September 14, 2005, when I participated in a press conference on our forthcoming paper that described a substantial increase in the global number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes. The unplanned and uncanny timing of publication of this paper was three weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. While global warming was mentioned only obliquely in the paper, the press focused on the global warming angle and a media furor followed. We were targeted as global warming alarmists, capitalizing on this tragedy to increase research funding and for personal publicity, a threat to capitalism and the American way of life, etc.
At the same time, we were treated like rock stars by the environmental movement. Our 15 minutes stretched into days, weeks and months. Hurricane Katrina became a national focusing event for the global warming debate. We were particularly stung by criticisms from fellow research scientists who claimed that we were doing this “for the money” and attacked our personal and scientific integrity. We felt that one scientist in particular had crossed the line and committed a series of fouls, and this turned the scientific debate into academic guerrilla warfare between our team and the skeptics that was played out in the glare of the media. This “war” culminated in an article published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, “Debate shatters the civility of weather science” on Feb 2, 2006 . . . This article became a catharsis for the hurricane research community, that engendered extensive email discussion among scientists on both sides of the public debate. We did an email version of a “group hug” and vowed to stop the guerilla warfare.
I had lost my bearings in all of this, and the Wall Street Journal article had the effect of a bucket of cold water being poured over my head. I learned several important lessons from this experience: just because the other guy commits the first “foul” doesn’t give you the moral high ground in protracted academic guerilla warfare. Nothing in this crazy environment is worth sacrificing your personal or professional integrity. After all, no one remembers who fired the first shot, all they see is unprofessional behavior.
I took a step back and tried to understand all this craziness and learn from it. I even wrote a journal article on this, “Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis that Greenhouse Warming is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity.” This paper got quite a bit of play in the blogosphere upon its publication in Aug 2006, and at this time I made my first major foray into the blogosphere, checking in at all the blogs where the paper was being discussed. See esp realclimate and climateaudit (but I can no longer find the original thread on climateaudit ).
At climateaudit, the posters had some questions about statistics and wanted to see the raw data. I was pretty impressed by the level of discussion, and wondered why I had not come across this blog before over at the realclimate blogroll. Then I realized that I was on Steve McIntyre’s blog (I had sort of heard of his tiff with Mann, but wasn’t really up on all this at the time). I was actually having much more fun over at climateaudit than at realclimate, and I thought it made much more sense to spend time at climateaudit rather than to preach to the converted at realclimate. Back in 2006 spending time at climateaudit was pretty rough sport (it wasn’t really moderated at the time). When I first started spending time over there, the warmist blogs thought it was really funny, and encouraged me to give ‘em hell.
I was continuing my overall thinking on how to better deal with skeptics and increase the credibility and integrity of science. I gave an invited talk at Fall 2006 AGU meeting, entitled “Falling out of the ivory tower: Reflections on mixing politics and climate science.” This is where I first started talking about circling the wagons, etc. I don’t think this was quite what the convenors had in mind when they invited me to give this talk, but at the time I still had pretty solid status as a survivor of vicious political attacks during the hurricane wars and was a heroine for taking down Bill Gray.
When the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report was published in 2007, I joined the consensus in supporting this document as authoritative; I was convinced by the rigors of the process, etc etc. While I didn’t personally agree with everything in the document (still nagging concerns about the treatment of uncertainty), I bought into the meme of “don’t trust what one scientist says, listen to the IPCC.” During 2008 and 2009, I became increasingly concerned by the lack of “policy neutrality” by people involved in the IPCC and policies that didn’t make sense to me. But after all, “don’t trust what one scientist says”, and I continued to substitute the IPCC assessment for my own personal judgment [in my public statements].
November 19, 2009: bucket of cold water #2. When I first saw the climategate emails, I knew these were real, they confirmed concerns and suspicions that I already had. After my first essay “On the credibility . . .” posted at climateaudit, I got some emails that asked me to be sensitive to the feelings of the scientists involved. I said I was a whole lot more worried about the IPCC, in terms of whether it could be saved and whether it should be saved. I had been willing to substitute the IPCC for my own personal judgment [in public statements], but after reading those emails, the IPCC lost the moral high ground in my opinion. Not to say that the IPCC science was wrong, but I no longer felt obligated in substituting the IPCC for my own personal judgment.
So the Judith Curry ca 2010 is the same scientist as she was in 2003, but sadder and wiser as a result of the hurricane wars, a public spokesperson on the global warming issue owing to the media attention from the hurricane wars, more broadly knowledgeable about the global warming issue, much more concerned about the integrity of climate science, listening to skeptics, and a blogger (for better or for worse). . . People really find it hard to believe that I don’t have a policy agenda about climate change/energy (believe me, Roger Pielke Jr has tried very hard to smoke me out as a “stealth advocate”). Yes, I want clean green energy, economic development and “world peace”. I have no idea how much climate change should be weighted in these kinds of policy decisions. I lack the knowledge, wisdom and hubris to think that anything I say or do should be of any consequence to climate/carbon/energy policy.”
October 3, 2012
Ten years have passed since the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, and there are still many unanswered questions surrounding that fateful day.
In 2011, experts and scientists from around the world gathered in Toronto, Canada to present new and established evidence that questions the official story of 9/11. This evidence was presented to a distinguished panel of experts over a 4 day period.
Through their analysis and scientific investigations, they hope to spark a new investigation into the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Press For Truth and The International Center for 9/11 Studies Present:
“The Toronto Hearings on 9/11: Uncovering Ten Years of Deception”
An over 5 hour DVD, with comprehensive coverage of the 4 day Toronto Hearings from September 2011.
Featuring expert witness testimony from:
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Support the film makers and own The Toronto Hearings on 911 on DVD!
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The sugar industry paid Harvard researchers in the 1960s to bury research linking sugar intake to heart disease and to instead make fat the culprit, according to a study of archival documents.
“These internal documents show that the Sugar Research Foundation initiated coronary heart disease research in 1965 to protect market share and that its first project, a literature review, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine without disclosure of the sugar industry’s funding or role,” stated the study.
The internal sugar industry documents were found in public archives by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.
UCSF researchers analyzed more than 340 documents indicating the relationship between the sugar industry and Roger Adams, then a professor of organic chemistry who served on the scientific advisory boards for the sugar industry, and Mark Hegsted, one of the Harvard researchers who produced the literature review.
The documents showed the sugar industry was aware of evidence in the 1960s that linked sugar consumption to high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels thought to be risk factors for coronary heart disease.
The sugar industry commissioned Project 226, a literature review written by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Nutrition Department, which concluded there was “no doubt” that the only dietary intervention required to prevent coronary heart disease was to reduce dietary cholesterol and substitute polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat in the American diet.
The sugar industry paid the Harvard scientist the equivalent of $50,000 in 2016 dollars.
The study found the NEJM review served the sugar industry’s interests by arguing that studies “associating sucrose with coronary heart disease were limited” and that sugar should not be included in assessments of risk of heart disease.
Researchers found the sugar industry would spend $600,000 (the equivalent of $5.3 million in 2016 dollars) to teach “people who had never had a course in biochemistry… that sugar is what keeps every human being alive and with energy to face our daily problems,” according to a UCSF press release.
Among the documents was a speech from 1954 by Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) president Henry Hass, which showed that they recognized that if Americans adopted low-fat diets, then per-capita consumption of sugar would increase by more than one-third. The trade organization represented 30 international members.
“The literature review helped shape not only public opinion on what causes heart problems but also the scientific community’s view of how to evaluate dietary risk factors to heart disease,” said lead author Cristin Kearns, who discovered the industry documents.
Other documents showed the sugar industry became concerned in 1962 with evidence showing that a low-fat diet high in sugar could elevate serum cholesterol level. In 1964, the SRF vice president and director of research, John Hickson, said new research on coronary heart disease found that “sugar is a less desirable dietary source of calories than other carbohydrates,” and referred to the work since 1957 of British physiologist John Yudkin, who challenged population studies singling out saturated fat as the primary dietary cause of coronary heart disease “and suggested other factors, including sucrose, were at least equally important.”
“Hickson proposed that SRF ‘could embark on a major program’ to counter Yudkin and other ‘negative attitudes toward sugar,’” stated the study.
It found that Hickson recommended an opinion poll “to learn what public concepts we should reinforce and what ones we need to combat through our research and information and legislation programs,” a symposium to “bring detractors before a board of their peers where their fallacies could be unveiled,” and recommended the sugar industry fund coronary heart disease research to “see what the weak points there are in the experimentation, and replicate the studies with appropriate corrections. Then publish the data and refute our detractors.”
The analysis ‘Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents’ was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Drone footage that shows Greenland melting away. Long narratives about the plight of climate refugees, from Louisiana to Bolivia and beyond. A series on the California drought. Color-coded maps that show how hot it could be in 2060.
The New York Times is a leader in covering climate change. Now The Times is ramping up its coverage to make the most important story in the world even more relevant, urgent and accessible to a huge audience around the globe.
We are looking for an editor to lead this dynamic new group. We want someone with an entrepreneurial streak who is obsessed with finding new ways to connect with readers and new ways to tell this vital story.
The coverage should encompass: the science of climate change; the politics of climate debates; the technological race to find solutions; the economic consequences of climate change; and profiles of fascinating characters enmeshed in the issues.
The coverage should include journalism in a variety of formats: video, photography, newsletters, features, podcasts, conferences and more. The unit should make strategic decisions about which forms are top priorities and which are not.
The climate editor will collaborate with many others throughout the newsroom, but will operate apart from the current department structure, with no print obligations. —
Applicants should submit a resume, examples of previous work, and a memo outlining their vision for coverage to Dean Baquet and Sam Dolnick by Sept. 19. This vision is the most important part of the application. It should be specific and set clear priorities. Some important questions to wrestle with:
What audiences should we be focusing on?
How will our coverage fit into their lives, and how will they experience it?
How will we distinguish our coverage from other journalism in this space?
What will be the main vehicles for the coverage? Features? News? Videos?
Should there be a signature voice attached to our climate coverage? Who?
How will you make a difficult subject interesting and accessible?
What stories are we willing not to do?
What should the team look like to get it done?
This non-Guild position is open to internal and external candidates. Applications should be sent to email@example.com.
The Guardian is no better at telling the truth about the nature of the 9/11 debate than about Syria, Ukraine or indeed anything. Its recent bid at being both social-media savvy and weirdly Orwellian, “Facebook Fact Check”, has this little snippet up atm:
The paper they are referring to is On the Physics of High Rise Building Collapses, which we have published here, and the “professor” who, according to them, “left Brigham Young University in disgrace” is of course physicist Steve Jones, who was the subject of a hostile media campaign after he and his BYU research team claimed to have discovered evidence of nanothermite in tiny “red gray chips” found in the dust from the WTC explosions.
For the record, Jones’ research work on the red gray chips has been challenged, but never debunked, and his experiments have been replicated successfully by independent researchers elsewhere in the world, such as Mark Bazile. Jones was suspended from his teaching duties and then offered “early retirement” by BYU in 2006 in the midst of the media campaign against him.
BYU’s reasons for this action were never publicly disclosed but the Guardian’s claim that Jones was “disgraced” is little more than a sleazy bit of innuendo, so gross it doesn’t even appear in the sourced WaPo article, which does at least try to be a tad objective. “Disgrace” is just the Graun’s own little bit of tabloidese. Because tabloid is all it seems to do now.
Jones’ three co-authors are described in this piece as “a retired professor and two longterm 9/11 truthers.” I guess the Graun didn’t want to admit two of them are structural engineers as well as being “truthers”?
When the (ironically named?) “fact-check” briefly discusses the physics of 9/11, it’s simply to offer yet more deception. The investigation by serious professionals of the still not fully explained and extraordinary triple collapses on 9/11 is listed along with claims we didn’t go to the Moon and some random nonsense about Hillary Clinton, presumably in some attempt to discredit by proximity. Instead of honestly addressing the very real areas of uncertainty which the scientists of NIST have quite openly admitted, the Graun does what many other agenda-driven “debunkers” do and tries to reframe the issue as being between “settled science” (to borrow a term) on one side and crazy, discredited or otherwise unreliable kooks on the other.
This, we need to clearly understand, is a purely propagandist ploy meant to convince only the under-informed “masses” (ie us), and not those on either side versed in the real issues. If you read their report and other commentaries, the experts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology are well aware that the explanation they have produced for the 9/11 building collapses is neither complete nor beyond rational question. They are well aware there is plenty of room for science-based interrogation and counter-hypothesis.
But for some reason it seems to be very important to the manufacturers of consent that we, the public, are not made aware of these continuing and probably understandable uncertainties. So, through outlets such as the Guardian (and many others) they disseminate simplistic statements, soundbites and frank lies, designed to convince people that what is uncertain, poorly explained and capable of interpretation is simple, settled, dusted and done.
The link the Guardian provides that is alleged to “disprove” all such “conspiracy theories” is to the 2005 Popular Mechanics article that did indeed claim to do this. The Guardian doesn’t mention that this article has itself been “debunked” and makes several provably false assertions.
If the fire-induced collapse explanation for the events of 9/11 is really beyond debate, why do outlets such as the Graun (and indeed Popular Mechanics) not make this self-evident by simply allowing both sides to place their evidence before the public on their pages, so that readers can make up their own minds? Outlets don’t need to take a side and defend it. In fact they work best when they try to avoid this and do their best to offer argument from all sides.
We aren’t claiming Jones and his co-authors are ultimately correct. We’re just pointing out that scientific truth doesn’t need to be defended by spin or censorship or grotesque ad hominem.
I came across the phrase in the title, and followed a link to a recent journal article which for once was available on open access. Entitled ‘Science and the Public: Debate, Denial, and Skepticism’, it looked interesting. You can read it here. The four authors come from different fields, and propose to outline ‘the distinction between true scepticism and denial’. They also offer some guidelines to help researchers, and interested members of the public, decide how to deal with enquiries, on the one hand, and problems which people see in published science, on the other.
The reader is brought into the area of ‘climate change’ at once. The controversy surrounding climate change is just one example of a polarized public debate that seems remote and detached from the actual state of science: Within the scientific community, there is a pervasive consensus that the Earth is warming from greenhouse gas emissions (Anderegg, Prall, Harold, & Schneider, 2010; Cook et al., 2013; Doran & Zimmerman, 2009; Oreskes, 2004; Shwed & Bearman, 2010), but outside science there is entrenched denial of this fact in some sectors of society (e.g., Dunlap, 2013; Lewandowsky, Gignac, & Oberauer, 2013). [my emphasis]
Whoops! Substantively, ‘climate change’ is not simply whether the planet has warmed through greenhouse gas emissions. More important and related questions include, for example, by how much has it warmed, what else has been at work besides greenhouse gases, is the warming unprecedented or not, does it matter anyway (isn’t warming better than cooling?), and many others. Pedantically, there is no need for a consensus to be graced with the adjective pervasive. If it is a consensus then it is by definition pervasive, meaning ‘permeated’, ‘diffused through’, etc.
Then interested readers might wonder where to find the entrenched denial of the supposed fact that the Earth is warming from greenhouse gas emissions. The sceptical community for the most part, I think, accepts that greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to the warming that has occurred over the past century or so (which is not quite the same thing). There are a few dragon-slayers who don’t agree. But entrenched denial? I’m not aware of it. The links don’t help, since Dunlap 2013 is a study of 108 climate change denial books with most of the interest being in their supposed links to business groups. The Lewandowsky link is even less helpful, as well as being an intellectually dreadful paper. I don’t know quite what I would expect to find as an example of entrenched denial in opposition to pervasive consensus, but there’s no evidence for it here. To continue:
Media reports occasionally even proclaim that warming has stopped (Ridley, 2014) or that we are headed for global cooling (e.g., Rose, 2013). These propositions have no scientific support …
Well, Matt Ridley’s op. ed. in the Wall Street Journal may not be top-of-the-line science, though he refers to the science, but the UK Met Office did indeed agree that there was a hiatus in warming, and that it would continue until 2017. The scientists who propose the possibility of cooling are solar physicists, for the most part, and their views may be wrong. But the ‘cooling’ view does have some scientific support (see, for example, here).
These introductory remarks are a little jarring, in the context of the pure bromide that is to come. Public debate and scepticism are essential to a functioning democracy. Indeed scepticism has been shown to enable people to differentiate more accurately between truth and falsehood. How could we disagree? So how do we tell when what we are getting is scientific fact or denial? Ah, you see, there are three factors that are always present when denialists are involved. First, they make stuff up. Second, denial commonly invokes notions of conspiracies. (I think Dunlap 2013, mentioned above, is an excellent example of the way in which conspiracies can be invoked, but I don’t think the authors had him in mind.). Third, denialists engineer personal and professional attacks on scientists both in public and behind the scenes, and issue prolific complaints to scientists’ host institutions with allegations of research conduct. Two of the authors of this article claim to have experienced such behaviour.
The authors claim, on the basis of what they call recent evidence, is that up to US$1billion flows into foundations and think tanks in the U.S. every year that are dedicated to political lobbying for various issues. One of the principal objectives of this network is to support a climate “counter movement” that seeks to reframe public discourse surrounding climate change from one of overwhelming scientific consensus to one of doubt, debate, and uncertainty (Brulle, 2014; Plehwe, 2014). To illustrate, more than 90% of recent books that dismiss environmental problems have been linked to conservative think tanks (Jacques, Dunlap, & Freeman, 2008), and such books typically never undergo peer review (Dunlap & Jacques, 2013). This does look like conspiracy stuff to me, on first reading, but again, I doubt the authors had this in mind either.
Now comes more bromide: In a democracy, calls for genuine debate are to be welcomed and must be taken seriously. Given that scientific issues can have far-reaching political, technological, or environmental consequences, greater involvement of the public can only be welcome and made led to better policy outcome. Who could disagree? We are given a small example of how this has worked in practice (it is not in climate change). Notwithstanding the public’s entitlement to be involved in issues that are scientifically informed, scientific debates must still be conducted according to the rules of science. Arguments must be evidence-based and they are subject to peer review before they become provisionally accepted. Hang on there! If arguments have to be evidence-based, and the evidence doesn’t support them, what then? Do we really have to wait for good policy until the peer-review process (something that applies almost solely to academic work) has considered the matter? In the climate science arena even well-credentialled sceptical scientists have found it hard to get critical papers accepted for publication.
In the matter of disagreement, the two first-named authors acknowledge the uncertainty in climate projections, but note that contrary to popular intuition, any uncertainty provides even greater impetus for climate mitigation. I’ve come across this line of argument before, and have to go along with ‘popular intuition’ here. If there is uncertainty about whether something needs to be done, because the evidence is weak or equivocal, it would seem strange indeed to say ‘Hah! That’s even more reason to go down my chosen path!’ I am open to persuasion, but not to this kind of assertion.
What I think is happening in this strange, muddled and evidence-free paper is a kind of explicit argument that peer review is the only way to go, if only because the blogospherical world (which the authors denounce) has very little in the way of support for the supposed consensus. By now the title of the paper has been forgotten by the authors, and we get this: People who deny scientific facts that they find challenging or unacceptable, by contrast, are by and large not skeptics. On the contrary, they demonstrably shy away from scientific debate by avoiding the submission of their ideas to peer review. One has to say, again, that peer review is for academics and is not the gold standard for science. Bad data, bad argument and self-interest are usually quickly discovered, and any proposition that results from them is usually dismissed, or at least put aside. What distinguishes ‘climate change’ is that policies like the carbon tax came before the science was properly in (it still isn’t), and for political reasons the policies remained current, despite the lack of continually corroborative scientific evidence.
Oh well, another blinkered, dodgy, peer-reviewed paper. Who let this through? Oh, I forgot to mention the Guidelines. The first, ‘Proposed Guidelines for Critical Scientific Engagement by Members of the Public’ begins with this little preamble: If your goal is to contribute to a scientific conversation, then you need to follow certain rules. One of those rules is that scientific arguments are conducted in the scientific peer-reviewed literature. If you are unwilling to do so, these guidelines are of little value. Indeed so. Good luck, would-be contributor!
The second set is for scientists who might be approached by a member of the public seeking critical engagement. The Guidelines tell you to be careful — you might be approached by someone who is not in good faith, and wants to find errors in your work. Don’t help them!
And when you’ve finished both guidelines, you still don’t know what the authors think a ‘true sceptic’ is, or how he or she is to be distinguished from a ‘denialist’. Yet that is embodied in the title of the article.
Finally, the authors. The first two names will be familiar to readers of this website, and indeed to anyone interested in the ‘climate change’ issue: Stephan Lewandowsky, Michael E. Mann, Nicholas J. L. Brown and Harris Friedman. You will learn about the third and fourth by reading the article. They seem somewhat more sensible than the first two. Oh, there are 96 references, of which 22 are self-referenced articles, 16 of them by Lewandowsky alone. I may be wrong, but I could find just three references that were critical of the authors’ standpoint. Not exactly a review paper, for all its pretension.
And I find myself saying, yet again, this awful, poorly argued, self-seeking paper has passed peer review? What have we come to in the journal world?
The people at NOAA who actually study sea level say it is rising less than seven inches per century.
the absolute global sea level rise is believed to be 1.7-1.8 millimeters/year.