Nobel history of a scientific “trick”

One of the more contentious issues that arose from the release of the Climategate emails is the confirmation from Phil Jones that:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temperatures to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Various attempts have been made to explain away that which appears to be an innovative – but inherently dishonest and deceptive (IMHO) – “technique” of data presentation (which Andrew Montford noted in The Hockey Stick Illusion is “fraught with difficulty”). These scientists, who like to rest on the laurels of their sharing a Nobel Peace Peace Prize in 2007, would have the public believe that this is a documented and accepted practice.

One might reasonably question such an assertion on their part. But it seems that this “trick” does, in fact, have a documented antecedent. As Lawrence Solomon noted in an article in today’s yesterday’s National Post:

The fallout of the Nobel scam of 1946

Scientist’s radiation cover-up might have cost thousands of lives

Why do most people today, scientists included, believe that small doses of radiation are harmful to human health when no proof for this theory exists, and when mountains of evidence show the opposite — that small amounts of radiation actually promote health? After years of sleuthing into historical records, a scientist at the University of Massachusetts has found a smoking gun, involving a scientific scam in 1946 at the very highest echelons — the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm.

In an august Nobel hall one year after the end of the Second World War, the scientific world was knowingly misled by Hermann J. Muller, winner that year of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. This is the verdict from a forensic review entitled Muller’s Nobel Prize Lecture: When Ideology Prevailed Over Science, just published by the Society of Toxicology in the Oxford University Press’s Toxicological Sciences. Had Muller spoken the truth and revealed the existence of contradictory research in the world’s most prominent scientific gathering, we might today have an entirely different view of radiation and its effects, preventing immense human suffering and the loss of countless lives.
Muller was in the ascendant “no safe dose” camp that claimed that there is no threshold below which radiation stops being harmful. As he told the distinguished attendees in Stockholm in accepting his Nobel Prize, the evidence now leaves “no escape from the conclusion that there is no threshold dose” of radiation. It was a convincing performance in the world’s most prestigious scientific gathering, except Muller himself knew that statement to be unsupportable. The historical evidence, as uncovered by Edward Calabrese, the author of the forensic review, leaves no escape from the conclusion that Muller was engaged in duplicity [emphasis added -hro].

Calabrese’s paper suggests that Muller’s strategy for blocking the publication of contrary evidence was somewhat more genteel than that performed by the likes of Jones and Mann et al, but it amounts to the same thing. Of equal interest though, is the “trick” that Calabrese reported:

Muller neglected to point out key limitations of the Ray-Chaudhuri experiment (Calabrese, 2011b; Ray-Chaudhuri, 1944) such as poor temperature control, changing the strain of fruit fly midway through the study, and yet still combining data of the two strains to gain statistical power without providing any justification. There was also insufficient detailing of research methods, inadequate data on quality control parameters, as well as a failure to provide information on age selection criteria for males, sex ratios of offspring, and rates of sterility and fecundity as well as data on lethal clusters, all of which are important in this type of study. [emphasis added -hro]

Interesting parallel (and precedent), don’t you think?! Although my guess is that back in 1947, the scientists were actually doing real experiments, rather than the post-normal computer-generated outputs that climate scientists would have us believe are worthy of being called “experiments”.

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