Monday, May 08, 2017

Splashy ideas get the money -- even if they are wrong

The article below is about medical research but similar results are found in other disciplines -- such as psychology. But global warming is probably the  most spectacular example of what the article discusses -- that scientists are most likely to get funded if they have an exciting idea to present -- but almost all such ideas are eventually found to be wrong.  And saving the planet is a REALLY big idea that yields a golden shower of research grants onto anybody who promotes Warmism.  The data is already in which shows that Warmism is BS but until most scientists come out and say it is BS it will still hold sway.  But for most scientists  concerned, Warmism is their bread and butter so we are going to wait a long time for them to own up

How many times have you encountered a study — on, say, weight loss — that trumpeted one fad, only to see another study discrediting it a week later?

That’s because many medical studies are junk. It’s an open secret in the research community, and it even has a name: “the reproducibility crisis.”

For any study to have legitimacy, it must be replicated, yet only half of medical studies celebrated in newspapers hold water under serious follow-up scrutiny — and about two-thirds of the “sexiest” cutting-edge reports, including the discovery of new genes linked to obesity or mental illness, are later “disconfirmed.”

Though erring is a key part of the scientific process, this level of failure slows scientific progress, wastes time and resources and costs taxpayers excesses of $28 billion a year, writes NPR science correspondent Richard Harris in his book “Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions” (Basic Books).

“When you read something, take it with a grain of salt,” Harris tells The Post. “Even the best science can be misleading, and often what you’re reading is not the best science.”

Take one particularly enraging example: For many years research on breast cancer was conducted on misidentified melanoma cells, which means that thousands of papers published in credible scientific journals were actually studying the wrong cancer. “It’s impossible to know how much this sloppy use of the wrong cells has set back research into breast cancer,” writes Harris.

Modal Trigger

Another study claimed to have invented a blood test that could detect ovarian cancer — which would mean much earlier diagnosis. The research was hailed as a major breakthrough on morning shows and in newspapers. Further scrutiny, though, revealed the only reason the blood test “worked” was because the researchers tested the two batches on two separate days — all the women with ovarian cancer on one day, and without the disease the next. Instead of measuring the differences in the cancer, the blood test had, in fact, measured the day-to-day differences in the machine.

So why are so many tests bogus? Harris has some thoughts.

For one, science is hard. Everything from unconscious bias — the way researchers see their data through the rosy lens of their own theses — to the types of beaker they use or the bedding that they keep mice in can cloud results and derail reproducibility.

Then there is the funding issue. During the heyday of the late ’90s and early aughts, research funding increased until Congress decided to hold funding flat for the next decade, creating an atmosphere of intense, some would say unhealthy, competition among research scientists. Now only 17 percent of grants get funded (compared to a third three decades ago). Add this to the truly terrible job market for post-docs — only 21 percent land tenure track jobs — and there is a greater incentive to publish splashy counterintuitive studies, which have a higher likelihood of being wrong, writes Harris.

One effect of this “pressure to publish” situation is intentional data manipulation, where scientists cherry-pick the information that supports a hypothesis while ignoring the data that doesn’t — an all too common problem in academic research, writes Harris.

“There’s a constant scramble for research dollars. Promotions and tenure depend on making splashy discoveries. There are big rewards for being first, even if the work ultimately fails the test of time,” writes Harris.

‘Promotions and tenure depend on making splashy discoveries. There are big rewards for being first, even if the work ultimately fails the test of time.’
This will only get worse if funding is cut further — something that seems inevitable under proposed federal tax cuts. “It only exacerbates the problems. With so many scientists fighting for a shrinking pool of money, cuts will only make all of these issues worse,” Harris says.

Luckily, there is a growing group of people working to expose the ugly side of how research is done. One of them is Stanford professor John Ioannidis, considered one of the heroes of the reproducibility movement. He’s written extensively on the topic, including a scathing paper titled “Why Most Published Scientific Research Findings Are False.”

He’s found, for example, out of tens of thousands of papers touting discoveries of specific genes linked to everything from depression to obesity, only 1.2 percent had truly positive results. Meanwhile, Dr. Ioannidis followed 49 studies that had been cited at least a thousand times — of which seven had been “flatly contradicted” by further research. This included one that claimed estrogen and progestin benefited women after hysterectomies “when in fact the drug combination increased the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.”

Other organizations like Retraction Watch, which tracks discredited studies in real time, and the Cochrane group, an independent network of researchers that pushes for evidence-based medicine, act as industry watchdogs. There is also an internal push for scientists to make their data public so it’s easier to police bad science.

The public can play a role, too. “If we curb our enthusiasm a bit,” Harris writes, “scientists will be less likely to run headlong after dubious ideas.”


Trump Opens Doors on Oil Exploration, but Deeper Reforms Still Needed

In another move to free up domestic energy supplies, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday aimed at lifting the Obama administration’s offshore drilling restrictions.

For decades, bad policies have blocked access to America’s abundance of domestic resources, yet America has still managed to be a global energy leader. Trump’s executive order, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” could unleash further success in the energy sector.

The economic potential sitting just off America’s coasts is enormous. The Outer Continental Shelf is awash with natural resources, containing an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Realizing that potential could create nearly a million American jobs, and the increased energy supplies that would result would put money back into the bank accounts of American families. It would also generate new prospects for investment and job creation, as cheap energy lowers the cost of business operations across all sectors, not just energy.

The federal government has placed various bans on offshore drilling for decades. Last November, the Obama administration’s Department of Interior finalized some of the most restrictive leasing programs to date.

The Interior Department’s final 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program was best known for the areas it placed off limits, rather than what it made available to lease for energy exploration.

It excluded lease sales in the oil-rich Beaufort or Chukchi seas off the coasts of Alaska, as well as areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Interior Department also restricted opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico and the Cook Inlet off south central Alaska.

Critics of Trump’s decision to free up leasing are making the same arguments they’ve made for years: “Oil prices are too low, so the decision won’t spur more oil exploration. Drilling offshore takes too long, so it’s not going to have any immediate impact.”

But those arguments ignore the biggest drivers of investment. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis were spot on in writing for The Washington Post, “[L]ocal political considerations and the global energy market are likely to influence future exploration far more than an executive order in Washington.”

While Trump’s executive order will open more doors for exploration, it won’t automatically trigger an energy boom. That’s the way it should be.

Oil prices are long-term and, as history has shown, can increase rather quickly. Industry makes investment decisions looking decades into the future, not simply based on short-term projections.

Although it certainly is possible that low oil prices could prohibit offshore production, that’s a decision for the private sector to consider. Businesses are much better equipped and flexible to deal with changing economic circumstances than shortsighted politicians in Washington.

Another battle cry for of those who oppose offshore drilling is: Do we really want to risk another Deepwater Horizon spill?

The Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010, which caused environmental degradation in the Gulf of Mexico, was a rare and isolated incident, not a result of any systemic problem associated with offshore oil and gas operations.

That’s not to say flaws don’t exist in the current system or that improvements can’t be made.

In fact, after Deepwater Horizon, Congress examined the government-imposed offshore liability cap but never implemented any prudent solution.

Current law states that oil or gas companies do not have to pay more than $75 million in liability costs for accidents they cause—no matter how great the damages.

Additional fees can be paid out of a government-mandated trust fund (the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund), which effectively socializes the risk of offshore oil and gas activities.

Congress should reform the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and remove the $75 million liability cap, replacing it with a new system that assesses the risks of offshore oil and gas operations and appropriately assigns those risks to industry operators.

A new approach would accurately assign risk to all offshore operations, including exploratory drilling, production, and tanker movements.

Such a system should also hold operators fully liable for their actions and guard against frivolous lawsuits. It should rely on market-based mechanisms and be built around private insurers and professional risk assessors.

Environmental activists aren’t the only ones opposed to Trump’s executive order. Some members of the tourism industry have also voiced concerns about expanded drilling off the Atlantic.

But the energy industry has worked in perfect harmony with other industries. Just look to the Gulf Coast. Every year, residents of the Gulf come to Morgan City, Louisiana, to celebrate the lifeblood of the region’s economy: seafood and oil.

Morgan City’s Shrimp and Petroleum Festival emphasizes “the unique way in which these two seemingly different industries work hand-in-hand culturally and environmentally in this area of the ‘Cajun Coast.’”

While the Deepwater Horizon spill affected all industries in the Gulf Coast, the majority of seafood and tourism companies supported the oil industry throughout the ordeal.

In fact, in many respects, the spill has strengthened the bond between the oil and seafood industry. Shrimpers and fishers were as vocal as anyone in lifting the offshore drilling ban after the spill.

Drilling off the Atlantic coasts could welcome the same symbiotic relationship, which already exists in the Gulf and in the state of Alaska.

Furthermore, states should collect more royalty revenue for offshore production.

Currently, states receive 50 percent of the revenues generated by onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands, and Congress should apply this allocation offshore as well.

Drilling off states’ coasts and allowing them a larger share of the royalty revenue would encourage more state involvement in drilling decisions.

Offshore drilling would also promote state and local government participation in allocating funds, helping them to close their deficits, enabling coastal restoration and conservation, and shoring up funds for schools.

Trump’s executive order is a welcome step to increasing access to domestic resources, but the back-and-forth of banning resource exploration and then undoing it is a sign that wholesale reform is necessary.

The politicization of the leasing program and the static central planning process that has stifled a dynamic, constantly changing energy market points to the need for legislative action. It is time for a fundamental reconsideration of how the U.S. manages offshore resource development.

Congress should amend the Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act and get rid of this antiquated, piecemeal leasing approach.


British retirement schemes ignore watchdog’s Greenie  rules

A row is brewing over the failure of pension funds to comply with the environmental requirements of the Pensions Regulator. Local authority funds that hold £217 billion for more than five million employees are failing to address the climate change risk in their investment decisions, experts say.

This could be highly damaging — industry watchdogs and leading fund management groups no longer view climate change provision as an ethical investment choice, but an essential one for safeguarding workers’ savings.

A report by Client Earth, the environmental law organisation, and Share Action, the responsible investment experts, reveals that 80 per cent of local government pension scheme funds failed to cite climate risk in their strategy statements.


Refocusing a Chicago water summit

Proposed EPA budget cuts have activists in dither over wrong issues and imaginary problems

Paul Driessen

President Trump’s proposal to reduce the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8.1-billion budget by $1.6 billion was cut to an $80-million trim in the omnibus spending bill. However, the EPA funding and staff controversy will undoubtedly resume during the next budgetary battles in September.

That’s fueling consternation and con jobs in the heartland. According to press releases, funds for cleaning up the Great Lakes, eliminating lead poisoning, stopping oil pollution and “ensuring justice” for affected groups are “on the chopping block.” Community leaders, government officials, academics and activists will therefore meet May 10-11 in Chicago for a Freshwater Lab Summit, to “engage the public” and map out strategies for preserving Obama environmental staffs, budgets, programs, policies and priorities.

Women, minorities and low-income communities often “bear the brunt of environmental degradation,” say conference organizers, who plan to emphasize “rights” to clean water, “regardless of race, wealth or class.” Speakers include mayors, opponents of oil pipelines and exporting Canadian water to the United States, proponents of sustainability and “environmental climate justice,” and an expert on the role of water sharing and management in “peacemaking, diplomacy and economic equality.”

The summit promises to be lively, somewhat informative, certainly politicized, and likely to energize more of the resistance, rallies, recriminations, rabble rousing, rage, rants and riots that have dominated the U.S. political scene since the November 2016 elections.

Here are a few thoughts that speakers and attendees might want to consider, but most likely will not.

As I’ve noted previously, since EPA was created in 1970, America’s air and water quality have improved dramatically, to the point where most serious pollution concerns are rare and isolated. Cars have eliminated 98% of the pollutants that they emitted 47 years ago. Coal-fired power plants now remove 80- 90% of the mercury, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and other dangerous substances that used to come out of their stacks. Factories and paper mills have done likewise with air and water emissions.

However, as our laws, technologies, and changed corporate and citizen attitudes resolved most of the chronic environmental problems of yesteryear, EPA and the environmentalist movement set new agendas and priorities. They became ideological, politicized and determined to control what Congress, the states and citizens never intended them to regulate: lingering traces of air pollution, climate change, our entire energy and economic infrastructure, and nearly every rivulet, puddle and other waters of the USA.

The Obama EPA also engaged in illegal experiments on humans; when their results proved that microscopic soot particles are not deadly, the agency ignored the evidence. It also claimed plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide “endangers” America and must be slashed by de-carbonizing and de-industrializing the US economy, under the agency’s Clean Power Plan and social cost of carbon scheme.

It held “listening sessions” in Chicago and other cities where abundant college and other activists could easily testify, but affected miners, factory workers and farmers would have to travel hundreds of miles – and then have their stories and concerns ignored by the regulators. They simply became Collateral Damage in a war on coal and affordable energy that brought green energy poverty to millions.

In the mostly former steel town of Middlebury, Ohio, jobs and people moved out, as dependency, despondency and drugs moved in. In September 2016, this city of 49,000 had 30 heroin overdoses in one week. Many factors played a role in the decline, but EPA’s regulatory warfare was clearly one of them.

Meanwhile, Flint, Michigan’s drinking water was laced with lead, because EPA, state and local officials were too distracted to safeguard what Chicago summiteers view as a basic right to clean water. Prevention and repair funds were spent on climate change and other agendas. Fixing this serious health problem is a high Trump EPA priority; the funds are not going to be deleted, as summit organizers claim.

Out in Colorado, EPA-supervised contractors unleashed a toxic flashflood from the Gold King Mine, contaminating river water for hundreds of miles. EPA waited an entire day before notifying impacted communities. It refused to provide adequate compensation and never punished anyone.

Will the conferees offer compassion and demand environmental justice for all these regulatory victims? Will they demand accountability for the inexcusable derelictions of duty by irresponsible regulators?

When they call for action to block more pipelines, will they even mention that new pipelines are needed to bring oil and natural gas from new fields to refineries and petrochemical plants that provide the fuels and products they use every day? That new pipelines are needed to replace aging pipes that could spring leaks? Or that pipelines are much safer than railway tanker cars and tanker trucks on our highways?

Will summit speaker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett explain the millions of gallons of untreated wastewater and sewage that his city still discharges into Lake Michigan every year?

In the context of “drastic” budget and personnel reductions proposed for EPA, will the “unprecedented coalition of mayors and community advocates” meeting in Chicago discuss the fact that EPA simply will not require so many people or funds, now that it won’t need a massive bureaucracy to control US lands, waters, farms, factories, energy and economic development, to “stabilize” Earth’s ever-fickle climate?

Staff and funding will still be more than adequate to clean up the Great Lakes, monitor and address drinking water and sewage problems in our cities, ensure that oil and gas pipelines are built and operated safely, and enforce factory and vehicle compliance with pollution standards. Fewer funds and personnel will simply be reallocated from the grand schemes of the Obama years to real remaining problems.

Will the conference recognize that federal regulations alone cost $1.9 trillion per year – prior to the regulatory tsunami of the Obama Administration’s final three months? The eight-year Obama era alone generated over $800 billion of those annual regulatory burdens. EPA alone was responsible for well over $350 billion of the overall bill, based on 2012 data from just the first four years of the Obama presidency.

These regulations – combined with countless thousands of criminal offenses embedded in them – impose an enormous burden on every business, industry, state, community and family in the United States. They are an incalculable drag on job creation, economic growth, family budgets, and the ability of families to meet medical, nutrition, rent, mortgage, college, retirement and other needs. They have an acute and disproportionate impact on poor, minority, single parent and blue-collar families.

They deprive people of their basic civil rights and environmental justice, often for few or no benefits.

Conference participants, community leaders, lawmakers and regulators should worry less about saving the planet, and more about doing their jobs and keeping little problems from becoming big ones. Less about exaggerated, fabricated climate risks, and more about actual pollution and joblessness risks. Less about rights and demands – and more about personal and shared responsibilities.

They should especially emphasize what kids and adults must do to succeed in life: Stay in school, study hard, graduate. Minimize drug and alcohol use. Don’t join gangs or become unwed teen parents. Get and stay married. Be parents, not just sperm or egg donors. Get a job, be on time, work hard, learn new skills, and parlay that experience into better jobs. Save for college or to move into a better neighborhood. Play a positive role in making your current home, neighborhood and school cleaner, safer, better.

President Trump’s election was an equal and opposite reaction to the excesses, abuses and failures by previous administration. Yes, elections do have consequences. The Trump election has brought new visions, agendas, directions and policies for America: rolling back costly, excessive, intrusive regulations; reducing tax burdens; devolving more power and responsibility to states and cities; telling federal agencies to focus on actual remaining problems that should be handled at that level; and persuading more people and communities to take greater responsibility for their own success or failure.

These changes will help bring jobs, opportunities and prosperity back to America. They deserve a fair hearing at the Chicago summit and elsewhere, in civil conversations that truly involve all affected parties.

Via email

Canada rejects Greenie squawks about weed killer

They systematically answer each point the panic merchants have made

Executive Summary

Health Canada's primary objective in regulating pesticides is to protect Canadians' health and their environment. Pesticides must be registered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) before they can be imported, sold, or used in Canada. Pesticides must go through rigorous science-based assessments before being approved for sale in Canada.

All registered pesticides must be re-evaluated by the PMRA on a cyclical basis to make sure they continue to meet modern health and environment safety standards and continue to have value. In 2015, the PMRA published the outcome of its extensive re-examination of glyphosate for public comment (PRVD2015-01), which concluded that the products containing glyphosate do not present unacceptable risks to human health or the environment when used according to the revised product label directions.

During this re-examination, the PMRA assessed the potential human health risk of glyphosate from drinking water, food, occupational and bystander exposure, as well as the environmental risk to non-target organisms. Both the active ingredient and formulated products were included in the re-evaluation. The assessment was carried out based on available information provided by the manufacturer of the pesticide, as well as a large volume of published scientific literature, monitoring information (for example, ground water and surface water) and reviews conducted by other regulatory authorities.

The overall finding from the re-examination of glyphosate is highlighted as follows:

Glyphosate is not genotoxic and is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk.

Dietary (food and drinking water) exposure associated with the use of glyphosate is not expected to pose a risk of concern to human health.

Occupational and residential risks associated with the use of glyphosate are not of concern, provided that updated label instructions are followed.

The environmental assessment concluded that spray buffer zones are necessary to mitigate potential risks to non-target species (for example, vegetation near treated areas, aquatic invertebrates and fish) from spray drift.

When used according to revised label directions, glyphosate products are not expected to pose risks of concern to the environment.

All registered glyphosate uses have value for weed control in agriculture and non-agricultural land management.

All comments received during the consultation process were taken into consideration. These comments and new data/information resulted in only minor revisions to the proposed regulatory decision described in PRVD2015-01. Therefore, the PMRA is granting continued registration of products containing glyphosate with requirements of additional label updates to further protect human health and the environment.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   main.html or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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