- JoNova - https://www.joannenova.com.au -

Skeptics get 49% more media, and other fairy fantasy stories from Nature Gossip Mag

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.

Nature, the former science giant, just launched the tenets of science over the event horizon. This paper is Argument from Authority rolled into false equivalence, and powered with cherry-picked errors in both category and in categorization. Nonsense on a rocket. It’s not what science is, and it’s not what journalism should be either.  And Nature is supposed to be both. Judith Curry calls it The latest travesty in ‘consensus enforcement’ and the worst paper she has ever seen in a reputable journal.

Nature, Science Publishing, Cover, Satire.


Both David Evans and I get a mention on what is effectively Nature‘s blacklist. What an honour! No really — there are 386 great names. Even more of an honour is a mention on Judith Curry’s site “blogs she’s learnt something from”. (By some freak, my name comes right after Freeman Dyson and Ivar Giaver, Nobel Prize winner. Career-high I tell you!) But seriously, Marc Morano tops the Nature blacklist, and no man deserves it more. Congratulations Marc!


The contrived “study” 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?

The ratio of “scientific authority” to “media visibility” is pretty much guaranteed by picking scientists-with-funding and comparing them to the rag tag bunch of sacked scientists and independent opinion makers who make their own media channels in order to even get media.

There’s no pretense at symmetry in the way the two groups were picked: the big citation-free media-kings on the believer side don’t even get a mention. As Curry points out — no Al Gore. There are also no teenage girls getting on boats. No Leonardo de Caprio either. Did David Suzuki make it? Bill Nye? Hard to say. Apparently the supplemental information became detrimental information within 48 hours and has been vanished already.

So having constructed a meaningless study they get meaningless results, which appears to be the aim, because it’s an excuse to write headlines complaining that skeptics get too much media.

The press release is what it’s all about

“Media Creates False Balance on Climate Science, Study Shows”

The key point:

“It’s time to stop giving these people visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority,” Professor Alex Petersen said.

– Uni California Merced

Conveniently, they blur new and old media under the one label. The new “research” shows skeptical scientists are all over the new media, while unskeptical scientists get “the same” amount of mentions on the mainstream media. (Sorry about your coffee).  Thus with loaded categories, contrived rules, and no principles, they can finally pretend that “media outlets” are interviewing skeptics out of some outdated sense of duty. Skeptics domination of blogs translates into skeptics get too much “media”.

It plays well for their victimhood status — another excuse for why climate scientists can’t seem to convince the world.

Purge the media

If only they could beat skeptics in public debates they wouldn’t need so many media rules:

The proper counterpoint to a climate scientist would be another legitimate scientist who could show competing data from the same experiments or show where the first climate scientist has made mistakes in his or her work. Having a non-expert oil lobbyist or politician respond to a peer-reviewed study or assessment by saying “climate change doesn’t exist” is not a credible argument or a means of balancing, Petersen said.

Since skeptics are sacked, defunded, and exiled, or even stranded at airports, if debate has to be from only certified approved, and paid gravy-trainers, that will pretty much end all debate, eh? Suits con artists and climate scientists.

Propagate your favourite ad hom conspiracy:

Author LeRoy Westerling lets rip with pure speculation

“It’s well known now that a well-financed propaganda campaign on behalf of conservative fossil fuel interests led mainstream media to frame reporting on climate change science as political reporting rather than science reporting,” he said. “Political reporting focuses its narrative around conflict and looks to highlight competing voices, rather than telling the story of the science.”

This, he said, has led to the false balance between scientists and a handful of climate deniers who have become regular commenters.

I think Nature should own this all the way. By publishing such a dismal paper, they gave all the authors the platform to get media interviews to put forward these baseless claims which he has zero evidence to support. Where was their rigor? Well…

This is their fancy-pants way of saying skeptics win in blogs and social media:

 By simultaneously accounting for each individual’s scientific authority, our quantitative analysis contributes to the CC [Climate change] communication literature by revealing the degree to which prominent contrarian voices benefit from the scalability of new media, in particular the large number of second-tier news sources and blogs that do not implement rigorous information quality assessment standards.

…and that blogs are not as rigorous as Nature thinks it is. Except of course, this blog here would never accept a paper as pathetic as this one — except to mock it.

Rigor means 100% complete obedience

The “study” calls Roger Pielke Jnr a “contrarian” and Bjorn Lomborg, even though both accept all the IPCC scientific reasoning, they just don’t buy the disaster or the solution. So any step outside the church and pfft — you’re gone.

Roger Pielke has already pointed that out. Fabius Maximus  wonders if that’s why the Supplementary information has disappeared in the last two days, deleted while they get legal advice or think up a better excuse. The data will be available on January 1 next year, long after the media headlines have been and gone.

So @nature has published a paper that includes me on a list of “contrarians” who reject climate science.
I’ve contributed to and defended the IPCC for 25+ years.
Yet such smears pass peer review.
What’s the remedy here?
Such BS

What’s troubling is not enemies list,they’ve been around for a long time. What’s troubling is that they are now laundered by academic journals & used by scientists & journos to silence or otherwise cause professional harm to their peers. It is really amazing. And it works.

It’s Cheese Food Science — by William Briggs

This paper is cheese food science, the kind Nature increasingly specializes in. Just like cheese food isn’t real food, which tastes good going down but which starts to come back up in a mean way twenty minutes later, this paper has a sciency name but which nauseates minds.

It doesn’t say a damned thing about whether anything any contrarian said was right or wrong, or even whether any expert scientist ever gets anything right or wrong. It only says, over and again, with slick graphics and thunk-tank prose, that contrarians aren’t to be respected solely because they aren’t in the The Club. It’s an article designed to make its cheese food authors, and their cheesy readers, feel well about themselves.

Commiserations to Marcel Croc, John McLean, and the fabulous BOM Audit team here who deserve to be on The Blacklist. Many other great skeptics may also have missed out on the US media focus or the 2016 cut off date. (Nothing after Trump won was included, because Trump distorts gravity fields or something.).

If only Unskeptical scientists had evidence, they wouldn’t need to work so hard to keep skeptical views out of the media


Other blog “Media” posts on the topic:   Judith Curry  |  WattsUpFabius MaximusWilliam Briggs

Posts on Media Bias


 Nature Communications

Abstract. We juxtapose 386 prominent contrarians with 386 expert scientists by tracking their digital footprints across ∼200,000 research publications and ∼100,000 English-language digital and print media articles on climate change. Projecting these individuals across the same backdrop facilitates quantifying disparities in media visibility and scientific authority, and identifying organization patterns within their association networks. Here we show via direct comparison that contrarians are featured in 49% more media articles than scientists. Yet when comparing visibility in mainstream media sources only, we observe just a 1% excess visibility, which objectively demonstrates the crowding out of professional mainstream sources by the proliferation of new media sources, many of which contribute to the production and consumption of climate change disinformation at scale. These results demonstrate why climate scientists should increasingly exert their authority in scientific and public discourse, and why professional journalists and editors should adjust the disproportionate attention given to contrarians.


The Spot Where a Reference Would Normally Go

Alexander Michael Petersen,  Emmanuel M. Vincent & Anthony LeRoy Westerling (2019) Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians, Nature Communications, volume 10, Article number: 3502 (2019) |

LeRoy Westerling’s Twitter account.

Image: Wikimedia Earth Adapted from Tesseract2

9.9 out of 10 based on 108 ratings