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Robert

Once again this blog on popular science delves into the divisive area of politics, wherein taking one or the other position must necessarily annoy about 50% of the readers (assuming the readership statistics are on par with national election results).

The last times were in October, and then (as now) you folks made it clear that you supported liberal Democrats and loathed conservative Republicans. That's fine, but I really see no reason why we need to know that in a blog about science. There is no need to push any political beliefs . . . liberal or conservative, totalitarian or anarchist . . . on this or any other blog on science. What do we care who you hate?

So, you just lost not only my blog RSS subscription, but the other as well. The hardcopy markets (newspapers, magazines, et al.) are having a hard enough time as it is thanks to the internet. I guess most folks just didn't realize that the poor behavior of the hardcopy folks online is part of that.

Good day.

Maurice Spidinnii

Mr. Jannot, please allow me to applaud your excellent resolution for the New Year. Principled debate, a free and open discussion of ideas conducted with civility, is one of the foundational structures of our nation. I too, stand in support of scientific freedom. As you stated, scientists must be able to “engage in open inquiry without threat of sanction or censure, and with the assurance that the fruits of their research will be considered and debated publicly, carefully, and without prejudice.”
However, I would like to take issue with your assertion that Popular Science is a stalwart supporter of ALL scientific inquiry. Specifically, where is your advocacy for the considerable number of scientists who dispute the influence of Western industrialization on global warming? I have read several PopSci articles over the past year that contribute to the cacophony of climate alarmism, but I do not recall a single feature discussing natural causes for the 1.1 degree F rise in global temperatures during the 20th century (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming). We have read this week that the UN released a report concluding that cattle are more destructive to the environment than all the CO2 produced by automobiles (news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2062484.ece). Can we expect to see an article touting this study? Or could it be that, because this report is “politically inconvenient” for the editors, the findings will be suppressed – contrary to the stated aim of scientific freedom?
We have repeatedly been told the consensus among scientists is humanity, in particular Western civilization, is responsible for global warming. Clearly, consensus does not make something fact. In Copernicus’ day, the consensus held that the Earth was the center of the universe. Of course, we know differently now.
You also state that “Normally, I wouldn’t expect a debate around such principles to be conducted along partisan political lines” and then draw an overtly partisan conclusion: the President and his political party are stifling scientific freedom. Were the situation reversed and a more favorable party in power, would you still decry the lack of freedom when scientific research that doesn’t fit your worldview was squelched and suppressed? Would you be willing to debate those conclusions “publicly, carefully, and without prejudice”?
Thank you for your publication of such a fine magazine. I will continue looking forward to receiving it each month and continuing the debate.

Ryan Kracht

Mr. Jannot,

Thank you for your quality magazine. I enjoy reading it. I agree that the pursuit of truth is an important right. Likewise, I also believe that technological advancement is responsible for most of the comforts that we currently enjoy. Perhaps I misunderstood, your position as stated in the new year's resolution though. Did you really mean that science and technology should be pursued "no matter how socially...inconvenient they might be"? What of countries currently pursuing nuclear weapons? Are they not just seeking scientific advancement? Perhaps pure science can be free from societal pressures, but the application of that science must always be held accountable. You mentioned stem cell research. Can you add to your resolution that we should also discuss scientifically the point at which human life begins? Maybe the President is convinced that by preventing scientists from conducting research on human embryos, he is protecting the lives of these tiny humans. I think this position is actually quite defensible, scientifically.

Sincerely,
Ryan Kracht

PatMosman

The following was sent to Mr. Jannot:

Subj: In Praise of Disagreement-March 2007 Mark Jannot
Date: 2/12/2007

Mr. Jannot,
As one who disagreed with your December 2006 characterization of President Bush's veto of the embryonic stem cell research bill as proof that the President and his administration are "blatantly antagonistic toward scientific freedom," I fully and completely support any and all efforts to have open and full scientific discussions on every subject and in all scientific fields. The discussions of theories should unfold in the open based on facts, hard evidence without political, economic or personal agendas just as scientists have done in the past for example, Einstein and Bohr's public and widely reported debates on quantum mechanics, not under the cloud of what is called "consensus science" which gave the world the consensus beliefs that the earth was flat, that the earth was the center of the universe and that the atom was the smallest particle. You might recall that several scientists, Galileo and Copernicus, who disagreed with the consensus were officially silenced although they were proven correct.
While you call for open scientific discussions you make it perfectly clear that you are proposing political investigations, not scientific fact finding, of the Bush administration's policies based on its failure to adopt completely consensus beliefs, such as "global
warming is the result of human activities". Obviously you have already decided that the charges against the administration are true and use findings by the "The Union of Concerned Scientists" hardly an unbiased organization, as proof. A rather devastating critique of this organization's sampling technique was recently published which showed that by asking "Have you experienced or have you heard of " questions one incident can generate a multitude of positive responses. It is as if you, as editor, rejected a scientific article for whatever reason, and the disgruntled author told ten friends that your publication is anti-science and they each told ten friends then one hundred, if asked, could state positively that your editorial policies were "antagonistic toward science."
If you wish a debate on science and scientific matters perhaps you could start with the following:
Michael Mann's 'hockey stick' presentation on warming has been thoroughly discredited, the IPCC has dropped it and yet it still serves as a centerpiece for Al Gore's movie. Why are scientists silent?
-Using the most recent, most accurate weather data and the best assumptions entered into the latest computer simulations, government scientists completely failed to predict the number and strength of the 2005 and 2006 hurricane seasons, they seriously under estimated the 2005 season and over estimated the 2006 season. If the best bureaucratic scientists cannot accurately predict weather patterns six months in advance why should their predictions for 10, 50 and 100 years into the future be accepted blindly as the basis for massive economic, environmental and political changes?
-The 2006 hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctica was the widest and deepest despite the banning of CFCs and the great reduction in emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides over the last fifteen years. When asked why the 2006 hole was larger, NOAA scientists said it was because the Antarctica was colder than average and that cold weather "results in larger and deeper ozone holes, while warmer weather leads to smaller ones." If government scientists know the the Antarctica is colder than average, confirmed by a number of scientific studies which get no media attention as filming the icepack growth in fractions of an inch does not have the impact of an iceberg crashing into the ocean from an isolated peninsula, are they not remiss in their duties by not correcting the media hype of warming in Antarctica?
This is a partial list of what could be labeled 'questionable consensus beliefs' that could undergo rigorous, unbiased scientific scrutiny. Perhaps you could start by inviting any number of scientists who have studied global warming, many are now being demonized as 'deniers' by the 'consensus' crowd, to present their positions in your magazine.
A view of their findings appear at:
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=156df7e6-d490-41c9-8b1f-106fef8763c6&k=0
Statistics needed -- The Deniers Part I
Warming is real -- and has benefits -- The Deniers Part II
The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science -- The Deniers Part III
Polar scientists on thin ice -- The Deniers Part IV
The original denier: into the cold -- The Deniers Part V
The sun moves climate change -- The Deniers Part VI
Will the sun cool us? -- The Deniers Part VII
The limits of predictability -- The Deniers Part VIII
Look to Mars for the truth on global warming -- The Deniers Part IX
Limited role for C02 -- the Deniers Part X

Who are some of the Deniers?

1- Astrophysicist Nir Shariv, Hebrew University, Israel

2 - THE CV OF A DENIER:
The Deniers, including Edward Wegman. Dr. Wegman is a professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and board member of the American Statistical Association.

3 - THE CV OF A DENIER:
Richard Tol received his PhD in Economics from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change at Hamburg University, director of the Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Science, principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a board member of the Centre for Marine and Climate Research, the International Max Planck Research Schools of Earth Systems Modelling and Maritime Affairs, and the European Forum on Integrated Environmental Assessment. He is an editor of Energy Economics, an associate editor of Environmental and Resource Economics, and a member of the editorial board of Environmental Science and Policy and Integrated Assessment.

4 - THE CV OF A DENIER:
Christopher Landsea received his doctoral degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University. A research meteorologist at the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he was chair of the American Meteorological Society's committee on tropical meteorology and tropical cyclones and a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's Banner I. Miller Award for the "best contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting." He is a frequent contributor to leading journals, including Science, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, and Nature.

5 - CV OF A DENIER:

Duncan Wingham was educated at Leeds and Bath Universities where he gained a B.Sc. and PhD. in Physics. He was appointed to a chair in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 1996, and to head of the Department of Earth Sciences in October, 2005. Prof. Wingham is a member of the National Environmental Research Council's Science and Technology Board and Earth Observation Experts Group. He is a director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling and principal scientist of the European Space Agency CryoSat Satellite Mission, the first ESA Earth Sciences satellite selected through open, scientific competition.

6 - CV OF A DENIER:

Richard Lindzen received his PhD in applied mathematics in 1964 from Harvard University. A professor of meteorology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. He is also a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS's Meisinger, and Charney Awards, and AGU's Macelwane Medal. He is author or coauthor of over 200 scholarly papers and books.

7 - CV OF A DENIER:
Henrik Svensmark is director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute (DSRI). Previously, Dr. Svensmark was head of the sunclimate group at DSRI. He has held post doctoral positions in physics at University California Berkeley, Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, and the Niels Bohr Institute. In 1997, Dr Svensmark received the Knud Hojgaard Anniversary Research Prize and in 2001 the Energy-E2 Research Prize.

8 - CV OF A DENIER:

Nigel Weiss, professor emeritus of mathematical astrophysics in the University of Cambridge, discovered the process of "flux expulsion" by which a conducting fluid undergoing rotating motion acts to expel the magnetic flux from the region of motion, a process now known to occur in the photosphere of the sun and other stars. He is also distinguished for his work on the theory of convection, and for precise numerical experiments on the behaviour of complicated non-linear differential equations. Nigel Weiss is a recipient of a Royal Society Citation, he is a past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a past Chairman of Cambridge's School of Physical Sciences. He was educated at Clare College, University of Cambridge.

9 - Henk Tennekes - former Director of Research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and later Chairman of the august Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

10 - CV OF A DENIER: Habibullo Abdussamatov, born in Samarkand in Uzbekistan in 1940, graduated from Samarkand University in 1962 as a physicist and a mathematician. He earned his doctorate at Pulkovo Observatory and the University of Leningrad. He is the head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academies of Sciences' Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station's Astrometry project, a long-term joint scientific research project of the Russian and Ukranian space agencies.
I would look forward to seeing you sponsor a real debate with real data not the hyped up propaganda of "an inconvenient truth".

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