Scientist Withholds "Full Truth" In Order To Get His Climate Change Paper Published In 'Nature' (

“I just got published in Nature because I stuck to a narrative I knew the editors would like. That’s not the way science should work.”

Patrick Brown, a PhD climate scientist and co-director of the Climate and Energy Team at The Breakthrough Institute, recently had a paper accepted by the prestigious journal, Nature. However, in a lengthy X thread, Brown tells of sordid tale of omission, exaggeration and a narrative-backing bias in order to appease the journal’s editors.

Climate change isn’t the only factor affecting wildfires, begins Brown. So why does the press focus so intently on it? Perhaps for the same reasons I just did in an academic paper in Nature: it fits a simple storyline that rewards the person telling it. 

The paper Brown just got published, “Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California”, focuses exclusively on how climate change has affected extreme wildfire behavior. Brown says he knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell.

This matters, continues Brown, because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society. 

Brown goes on to spell it out, bluntly: Climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change, which he says distorts a great deal of climate science research and misinforms the public.

A researcher’s career very much depends on his or her work being cited widely which gives the perception of importance. This triggers the self-reinforcing feedback loops of name recognition, funding, quality applications from aspiring PhD students and postdocs, and of course, accolades — something Dr. Judith Curry speaks of here.

What do you think?

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Crazy Bear
Crazy Bear
9 months ago

All main stream science is on the same dance floor. Dance to the music that’s played and you keep getting invited to the ball. Bring your own band and they black ball you for life.

9 months ago

These journals are all full of nonsense. I’ve seen several statistics that they are about 80% fairytales at this point, and that real scientists (of which there are VERY few) don’t take them seriously because of that.