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Post-Modern Witch Hunt: Nature Publishes Blacklist Of Critical Scientists & Writers

Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science

The clear intention of this paper is to try and put an even tighter lid on the scientific literature and mainstream media so that any individuals with views that run counter to a message-of-climate-doom are excluded. 

Along with hundreds of other people – 385 to be exact – I have been blacklisted [#181] by the science journal Nature Communications in a recently-published abysmal paper by three authors from University of California Merced, after I and a number of others were publicly defamed by a squadron of authors in a similarly-stupid paper less than two years ago in the general interest journal BioScience. This obsession that scientists-with-a-message have about silencing peers with other viewpoints (rather than constructing and communicating a winning argument themselves) is vile and utterly counter to what real science is about. Not surprisingly, they positively fawn over media stars like Al Gore and Greta Thunberg who have no science background but willingly repeat the accepted message of climate-change-doom.

Stupidest paper ever final

Data from a new study by Professor @LeroyWesterling published in @NatureComms shows that about half the mainstream media visibility about #climatechange goes to climate-change deniers, many of whom are not climate scientists. 

Now we have two stupid papers that purport to uphold the sanctity of one particular view of climate change: the Harvey et al. “absolutely the stupidest paper I have ever seen published” (Curry 2017) – which we all truly thought could not be matched – and now the Petersen et al. “worst paper published in a reputable journal” (Curry, 2019).

Judith Curry: “Apart from the rank stupidity of this article and the irresponsibility of Nature in publishing this, this paper does substantial harm to climate science.

Jo Nova: “Skeptics get banned, rejected, blocked and sacked from the mainstream media yet somehow Nature has a paper on Skeptics getting too much media. Believers don’t have to be an expert to control the news agenda, just a Greenpeace activist, or a teenage girl. Skeptics on the other hand, can be Nobel Prize winners, but the BBC won’t even phone them.”

The two papers were equally-poorly conceived and executed: see critiques of the new one hereherehere, and hereJo Novasummarized the new Nature paper this way:

“…compares bloggers, commentators and journalists with largely academic scientists, as if the two groups ought have comparable scientific citations or media mentions. Somehow paid scientists get more science citations and professional media personalities get more media. Who would have guessed? Or rather, who couldn’t?”

However, Petersen and his co-authors crossed a very clearly defined ethical line – they did research on human subjects without their consent and then publicly named them. An unknown number of people, including Roger Pielke Jr., have filled official complaints with the journal and at least one has threatened a lawsuit.

The list of subjects and other ‘supplementary material’ was available for two days – plenty of time for internet immortalization – and while it was eventually removed, that action did nothing to correct the underlying ethics violation. Even if, as seems very likely, the paper is withdrawn because of it, the damage has been done: the list is out there.

That this Nature paper was intended as a blacklist is made clear by the press release, comments by the authors (another quoted below, my bold), and their supporters.

“It’s time to stop giving these people visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority,” Professor Alex Petersen said. “By tracking the digital traces of specific individuals in vast troves of publicly available media data, we developed methods to hold people and media outlets accountable for their roles in the climate-change-denialism movement, which has given rise to climate change misinformation at scale.”

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