"Compromised science" news/opines (includes retractions, declining academic standards, pred-J, etc)

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by C C, Apr 28, 2023.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting. I don't think it is at all true to say physics is full of pseudoscience, but there are plenty of people complaining that string theory, in particular, seems to be close to deserving that title.

    I'm not sure I would apply the pseudoscience label to either that or models of consciousness, though, as we know that in science hypotheses and observation go hand in hand and sometimes it is inevitable that one gets ahead of the other. One has to allow this to some extent or science would never develop. But with superstring theory I think the criticism is that it has been going since the 1960s, has grown into a cottage industry within the subject - and all without ever making a testable prediction.

    I think what annoys the authors of the pseudoscience letter is the false impression that pop-sci journalists and the media more generally sometimes give about the status of some of these untested hypotheses. This is especially the case when there is a suspicion that some of the scientists involved like to give media interviews promoting their pet hypotheses, when in fact they are far from being accepted or validated.

    On this very forum we have recently had a person asking about gravitons, for example, under the impression that they are part of the current model of physics.
     
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  3. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

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    Yes I read about this in the New scientist on line. Thanks for the reference.
     
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    After resigning en masse, math journal editors launch new publication
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/09...-math-journal-editors-launch-new-publication/

    The editor in chief, managing editors, and entire editorial board of a mathematics journal all resigned earlier this year following a dispute with their publisher over special issues and article volume.

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    Anthropology groups cancel conference panel on why biological sex is “necessary” for research
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/09...why-biological-sex-is-necessary-for-research/

    Two anthropology organizations co-hosting a conference this fall have removed from the program a panel presentation entitled “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby: Why biological sex remains a necessary analytic category in anthropology.”

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    Nature flags doubts over Google AI study, pulls commentary
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/09/26/nature-flags-doubts-over-google-ai-study-pulls-commentary/

    A new editor’s note in "Nature" highlights concerns about a paper by Google researchers who claimed computer chips designed in just a few hours using artificial intelligence beat chip plans that human experts took months to develop.

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    Yale professor’s book ‘systematically misrepresents’ sources, review claims
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/09...atically-misrepresents-sources-review-claims/

    The first book of a Yale professor of Chinese history contains a “multitude of problems,” according to a no-holds-barred review published last month.
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    The anthropology one is pretty ghastly.
     
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Here's more about it at RW, or an opinion piece, anyway:

    How a canceled panel on sex plays into censorship by the right: A guest post
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...orship-by-the-right-a-guest-post/#more-127981

    In case you didn’t get the memo, the presidents of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) want you to stop talking about sex already. Or at least they want anthropologists to stop. [...] This kind of attempt at silencing feeds the right’s portrayal of academics as hopelessly partisan and the right’s belief that political censorship is fair game.
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2023
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  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    The Dos and Don’ts of Peer Reviewing
    https://eos.org/editors-vox/the-dos-and-donts-of-peer-reviewing

    INTRO: Fair peer review is a necessity for research across all scientific disciplines. Thousands of experts volunteer their time each year to advance scientific understanding and provide feedback to their peers by reviewing manuscripts in AGU’s journals. Whether you are an early-career researcher preparing to review your first manuscript, or a seasoned expert, it is important to understand your role as a reviewer and ensure you provide constructive feedback to authors.

    When writing your review, always remember to treat others the way they would like to be treated. Managing your tone and considering unconscious biases is paramount to writing a respectful and helpful review. Here, we’ve put together a quick guide on what to include and exclude from your peer review comments... (MORE - details)
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  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    It's a good point. This sort of thing is evidence that US academia is indeed starting to fall prey to absurd degrees of political correctness. No wonder it creates a backlash.
     
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Is psychology good for anything?
    https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/is-psychology-good-for-anything/

    KEY POINTS: Psychology has been under fire for over a decade for problems with reproducibility. Recent high-profile cases of alleged fraud against researchers at Duke and Harvard have brought the field’s troubles back into the spotlight. One researcher suggested that if discarding a substantial number of psychology studies has a negligible effect on our understanding of human nature, then perhaps psychology is irrelevant. However, the field of psychology has made many reliable, important contributions to our understanding of the mind and behavior. Some of these contributions are so well-established and widespread that we fail to appreciate their impact. (MORE - details)
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  12. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    After shunning scientist, University of Pennsylvania celebrates her Nobel Prize
    https://www.wsj.com/health/after-sh...32hki7ibz29&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

    INTRO: The University of Pennsylvania is basking in the glow of two researchers who this week were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their pioneering work on messenger RNA.

    Until recently, the school and its faculty largely disdained one of those scientists.

    Penn demoted Katalin Karikó, shunting her to a lab on the outskirts of campus while cutting her pay. Karikó’s colleagues denigrated her mRNA research and some wouldn’t work with her, according to her and people at the school. Eventually, Karikó persuaded another Penn researcher, Drew Weissman, to work with her on modifying mRNA for vaccines and drugs, though most others at the school remained skeptical, pushing other approaches.

    Karikó hasn’t only proven her detractors wrong but also reached the pinnacle of science. Her research with Weissman helped lead to the mRNA vaccines that protected people worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic and now shows promise for flu, cancer and other diseases.

    Penn, which patented their mRNA technology, has made millions of dollars from drugmakers that licensed it. And on Monday, when Karikó and Weissman were awarded the Nobel, on top of prestigious science prizes in recent years, the school expressed a different perspective on their work.

    The reversal offers a glimpse of the clubby, hothouse world of academia and science, where winning financial funding is a constant burden, securing publication is a frustrating challenge and those with unconventional or ambitious approaches can struggle to gain support and acceptance.

    “It’s a flawed system,” said David Langer, who is chair of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, spent 18 years studying and working at Penn and was Karikó’s student and collaborator... (MORE - details)
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  13. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Signs of undeclared ChatGPT use in papers mounting
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10/06/signs-of-undeclared-chatgpt-use-in-papers-mounting/

    Last week, an environmental journal published a paper on the use of renewable energy in cleaning up contaminated land. To read it, you would have to pay 40 euros. But you still wouldn’t know for sure who wrote it.

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    Authors file complaint with publisher as journal retracts vaping paper
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...h-publisher-as-journal-retracts-vaping-paper/

    A paper that found smoking rates in the United States fell faster than expected as more people started using e-cigarettes has been retracted over the objections of its authors, who have filed a complaint with the journal’s publisher.

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    To guard against fraud, medical research should be a profession: A book excerpt
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...search-should-be-a-profession-a-book-excerpt/

    We are pleased to present an excerpt from "Trust in Medical Research", a freely available new book by Warwick P. Anderson, emeritus professor of physiology and biomedical sciences at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

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    Nobel Prize winner Gregg Semenza tallies tenth retraction
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10/02/nobel-prize-winner-gregg-semenza-tallies-tenth-retraction/

    It’s Nobel Prize week, and the work behind mRNA COVID-19 vaccines has just earned the physiology or medicine prize. But this is Retraction Watch, so that’s not what this post is about. A Nobel prize-winning researcher whose publications have come under scrutiny has retracted his 10th paper for issues with the data and images.

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    One year later, bioinformatics journal with unclear leadership yet to retract plagiarized article
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...eadership-yet-to-retract-plagiarized-article/

    On Aug. 17, 2022, Nicki Tiffin received a notification that she had published a new study. The problem? She had never submitted an article to the journal in which the paper appeared. A year later, despite efforts by Tiffin and others, the journal has not responded to retraction requests, and the article remains online.
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  14. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Science isn't woke, but it is political
    https://iai.tv/articles/science-isnt-woke-but-it-is-political-stephen-john-auid-2619?_auid=2020

    The U.K.’s science minister vowed to kick “woke ideology out of science”. While it might sound like a sensible policy to keep science and politics apart, in practice that’s impossible. Many key decisions in science require an appeal to moral and political values, argues Stephen John. But it shouldn’t be the government policing which values are acceptable.
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  15. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing really new, as everything from subtle coercion to conform to the goals or views of industry employers and institute administrators, to the replication crisis, to publish or perish pressures, to eroding quality of peer review, and the diverse number of reasons leading to retractions bear the concerns out to one degree or another.

    On the opposite(?) side of this soapbox rivalry between different factions of the science community, you have op-eds and articles in left-leaning publications and media proclaiming that science is, always been, and should be political... In order to stealthily protect and justify the incursion and influence of social justice theories outputted by humanities scholars (example: "Science isn't woke, but it is political" ).

    I seriously doubt any treatise of acrobatic propaganda and intellectual gobbledygook can be fashioned that successfully gives a free-pass to one's own ideological terrain while selectively barring that of another side. Once you officially open the door to or overtly acknowledge and champion scientists being political, then public trust collapses with respect to the traditional image of impartiality and objectivity.

    I wish Jerry Coyne was around to comment on the latest activity (particularly an item like in the previous post). For weeks, he seems to have been preoccupied with touring Israel and now is focused on the "war" transpiring over there.

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    How ‘Preapproved Narratives’ corrupt science
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-pr...h7gkliibi3v&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

    EXCERPTS: “The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true,” Dr. Ioannidis argued. “Many otherwise seemingly independent, university-based studies may be conducted for no other reason than to give physicians and researchers qualifications for promotion or tenure.”

    In addition, many scientists use the peer-review process to suppress findings that challenge their own beliefs, which perpetuates “false dogma.” As Dr. Ioannidis explained, the more scientists there are in a field, the more competition there is to get published and the more likely they are to produce “impressive ‘positive’ results” and “extreme research claims.”

    [...] Journals often don’t compensate peer reviewers, which can result in perfunctory work. The bigger problem is that reviewers often disregard a study’s flaws when its conclusions reinforce their own biases. One result is that “a large share of what is published may not be replicable or is obviously false,” Dr. Ioannidis notes. “Even outright fraud may be becoming more common.”
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  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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  17. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Something is wrong with psychological research
    https://sciencenorway.no/psychology...-is-wrong-with-psychological-research/2257776

    EXCERPTS: ... In 2022, psychology professor Gerald Haeffel made an urgent call to his colleagues worldwide: "Research psychologists need to get tired of winning every time!"

    One new survey that Haeffel refers to showed that 96 percent of psychological studies concluded that the hypothesis was correct. That’s not good.

    When scientists are almost always right, it is not a sign that they are geniuses but rather a disturbing hint that something is wrong with the studies. The survey Haeffel referred to is by no means the first sign of problems in psychological research.

    Several researchers had begun to question the quality of many investigations in the early 2010s. And in 2015, a firebrand of a study was published in the scientific journal Science.

    Researcher Brian Nosek and a large group of colleagues had set up a huge test. They selected 100 random psychology studies that had recently been published in three prestigious scientific journals. Then the researchers simply ran the studies again to see if they would achieve the same results. They didn't.

    Replication crisis. Ninety-seven percent of the original studies confirmed the researchers' hypotheses. When exactly the same studies were conducted again, only 37 percent of them supported the hypothesis. And even in these studies, the results were often far weaker than in the original studies.

    Several major psychological truths were called into question in the wake of this and other investigations.

    The problems in the field are often referred to as a replication crisis. The problems within social psychology [...] have been pointed to in particular. But other areas, such as clinical psychology, also appear to be affected.

    The well-known statistician and science critic John Ioannidis wrote in 2022 that most of the documentation we have on psychotherapy is highly distorted.

    [...] Joar Øveraas Halvorsen is a specialist in clinical psychology and an associate professor at NTNU. He also believes that many of the studies in psychology are of poor quality. This in turn leads to a lot of the knowledge in the field being less reliable.

    We can say very few things with any great degree of certainty in my field. A significant proportion of what I learned as an undergraduate in psychology in 2001 has since been shown not to hold water,” he says.

    [...] Jan Ivar Røssberg is professor of psychiatry at the University of Oslo and a senior physician in psychiatry at Oslo University Hospital. He has conducted many psychotherapy studies and is well acquainted with the research in the field.

    He also confirms the research problems. “You have to look far and wide for studies where the researcher’s own beliefs don’t win out..." (MORE - missing details)
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    Last edited: Oct 10, 2023
  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Placebo effect revisited
    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/placebo-effect-revisited/

    EXCERPTS: In a recent editorial for The New York Times, researcher Ted J. Kaptchuk, who directs placebo studies at Harvard, gives his summary of [...] placebo effects. While much of what he says is ... at least uncontroversial, in my opinion he shoehorns the facts into his preferred narrative – a popular narrative that can be counterproductive and feeds into unscientific medical treatments.

    [...] He takes a while to give a definition of placebo effects ... “Placebo effects are health improvements initiated from the rituals, symbols and behaviors involved with healing.”

    That is an inaccurate definition [...] Apparent improvements may not be real. ... Symptoms fluctuate, and people are more likely to seek treatment when symptoms are at their worst, which is statistically likely to be followed by spontaneous improvement.

    Give someone an inert placebo and they will improve. The improvement was not “initiated” by the placebo in any way. It would have happened without any intervention. It is simply a statistical illusion of observation – but such effects are included in what we measure as placebo effects.

    There are other illusory effects in there as well. [...] Kaptchuk is focusing on only a subset of placebo effects and treating it as if it is the entire phenomenon. But this fits his narrative, that placebo effects are something to be harnessed and are valuable in and of themselves... (MORE - missing details)
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  19. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Exclusive: Author threatened to sue publisher over retraction, then sued to block release of emails
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...raction-then-sued-to-block-release-of-emails/

    An education researcher who had four papers flagged for plagiarism and citation issues threatened to sue the publisher and editors who decided to retract one of the articles...

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    Our two-year fight for the release of public records
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10/12/our-two-year-fight-for-the-release-of-public-records/

    In September 2020, we requested records from the University of California, Irvine, regarding four papers by an assistant professor of education that had been retracted, corrected, or taken down. [...] It took approximately two and a half years for us to obtain the records...

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    Study of music by Mozart includes tunes “not necessarily music composed by Mozart”
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...nes-not-necessarily-music-composed-by-mozart/

    Despite how prolific he was, however, Mozart did not write an album called “Bedtime Mozart.” That has now created a headache for the authors of a study published in "Pediatric Research" in August that found the particular set of melodies helped soothe babies during a particular blood test.

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    How thousands of invisible citations sneak into papers and make for fake metrics
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...-sneak-into-papers-and-make-for-fake-metrics/

    “We believe we found an undocumented way of cheating with citation counts. [...] It’s original because it doesn’t require fraudsters to alter the version of record, meaning the PDF or HTML version of the paper.”
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  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    TRIGGER WARNING: The following may contain emotionally disturbing material for some. If the information consumer decides to proceed, note that...

    While it may be common today for criticism, critique, or questioning of climate standards, approach, and policy to be reflexively regarded as politically motivated or flagrant examples of iconoclasm... Nevertheless, this mainstream version of the conspiratorial mindset -- no matter how morally defensible by noble environmental, social justice, and future cataclysmic concerns -- does not warrant the total elimination of balanced representation of views.

    It is thus the responsibility of the information consumer, in the context of their own good causes and personal ideological sensitivities, to apply their own interpretative apparatus to such specific instances in this controversial terrain or minefield, which may either concur with or offend their etho-socioeconomic principles.
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    How climate change became apocalyptic
    https://rogerpielkejr.substack.com/p/how-climate-change-became-apocalyptic

    EXCERPTS: Today, RCP8.5 is so woven into the fabric of climate research, policy and advocacy that it has developed it own constituency among climate influencers who not only defend its continued use, but assert falsely that the scenario remains a plausible future.

    [...] Some readers have asked me whether these errors were mistakes or instead, tactical decisions to present climate change as more extreme than the evidence warranted. I have no evidence on the intent of IPCC participants. To be perfectly clear, I believe it unlikely that RCP8.5 was the result of tactical decisions...

    [...] Here is where things went wrong. When the RCPs were characterized in the AR5 reports in 2013 and 2014, RCP6.0 and RCP4.5 had been transformed from baseline scenarios to policy scenarios, and RCP8.5 remained as the only baseline scenario...

    [...] What happened? Where did these far more realistic baselines go? [...] A good first step would be for leaders in the scientific community to acknowledge the major error made by the IPCC AR5 that transformed RCP8.5 into the only legitimate baseline scenario and eliminated the more realistic ones. We need to understand how the mistake happened in the world’s preeminent science assessment and take steps to ensure that a mistake of this magnitude cannot happen again.
    (MORE - missing details)
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    Last edited: Oct 17, 2023
  21. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Reproducibility trial: 246 biologists get different results from same data sets
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03177-1

    INTRO: In a massive exercise to examine reproducibility, more than 200 biologists analysed the same sets of ecological data — and got widely divergent results. The first sweeping study1 of its kind in ecology demonstrates how much results in the field can vary, not because of differences in the environment, but because of scientists’ analytical choices.

    “There can be a tendency to treat individual papers’ findings as definitive,” says Hannah Fraser, an ecology meta researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a co-author of the study. But the results show that “we really can’t be relying on any individual result or any individual study to tell us the whole story”... (MORE - details)

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    Some insights into the factors influencing continuous citation of retracted scientific papers
    https://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/11/4/47

    ABSTRACT: Once retracted, the citation count of a research paper might be intuitively expected to drop precipitously. Here, we assessed the post-retraction citation of life and medical sciences papers from two top-ranked, multidisciplinary journals Nature and Science, from 2010 to 2018. Post-retraction citations accounted for a staggering 47.7% and 40.9% of total citations (median values), respectively, of the papers included in our analysis.

    These numbers are comparable with those from two journals with lower impact factors, and with retracted papers from the physical sciences discipline. A more qualitative assessment of five papers from the two journals with a high percentage (>50%) of post-retraction citations, all of which are associated with misconduct, reveal different contributing reasons and factors.

    Retracted papers associated with highly publicized misconduct cases are more prone to being cited with the retraction status indicated, or projected negatively (such as in the context of research ethics and misconduct discussions), with the latter also indicated by cross-disciplinary citations by humanities and social sciences articles.

    Retracted papers that retained significant validity in their main findings/conclusions may receive a large number of neutral citations that are somewhat blind to the retraction.

    Retracted papers in popular subject areas with massive publication outputs, particularly secondary publications such as reviews, may also have a high background citation noise.

    Our findings add further insights to the nature of post-retraction citations beyond the plain notion that these are largely made through sheer ignorance or negligence by the citing authors. (MORE - details)
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I followed his argument that RCP8.5 seemed to mysteriously morph from the worst of 3 baseline scenarios into the only baseline scenario. But I must have missed his explanation for why he why he says it is "falsely asserted" to remain a plausible future. What, in his opinion, rules it out as a possible worst case?
     
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  23. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Setting aside the issue of possibly loading "implausible" with an overtone of total certainty, the background behind that assessment (at a more mortal level) is distributed in bits pieces over installments of his blog or whatever ("subscription newsletters" on Substack). Those referenced "regular readers" would doubtless be more adept at remembering where those are located, than what I can track down.

    (Oct 9, 2023) Thou Shalt Use RCP8.5
    https://rogerpielkejr.substack.com/p/thou-shalt-use-rcp85

    "Readers here will well understand that SSP5-8.5 — the updated version of RCP8.5 — is not a plausible scenario, and this understanding has a broad and growing consensus within the scientific community. " ​

    What the Wiki link briefly says... SSP5-8.5: very high GHG emissions: CO2 emissions triple by 2075...

    Personally, I don't see how an _X_ could be absolutely false (with respect to being plausible), since what humans do or don't do about climate change is strewn with unpredictability. And current data and interpretations of such, along with competence levels with respect to the latter, are potentially subject to change in the future (knowledge about a complex system isn't perfect).

    If he was assigning a "sure thing" status, one spot (in the HCCBA title) where he perhaps vaguely acknowledges a degree of hyperbole or subjectivity is in the statement: "Whether you today believe RCP8.5 to be plausible or not is completely independent from the error documented below..."
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    Last edited: Oct 18, 2023

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