GIStemp. Pas d’un coup?

Painting of the Execution of Robespierre

A Coup for The Thermometer Kings?

The original full size image.

I was following a link back to see who was reading my work, and ran into an interesting comment. It is in French, but an interesting point. The “short form” is that there are only a couple of sites making temperature series available. Hadcrut will not share code nor methods. GISS and GIStemp are deconstructed by me, here, and found lacking. And the other two teams have similar issues. They then make the point that all the AGW temperature series rests on 4 groups of researchers, and about 10 people.

An interesting thought! Une idée intéressante!

I’m not fond of “conspiracy theories”. They are almost universally wrong. But there is another, more powerful human behaviour. “Group Think”. I believe that is what the original comment is talking about.

It isn’t the idea of a Grand Conspiracy that keeps me up at night so much as it’s the idea of a Grand Delusion. History is full of such delusions. Read “Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”. Free from:

for a wonderfully rich history of some of the most memorable early “fads” and madnesses.

Folks share ideas. They empathize and idolize and want to emulate each other. They get enamored of each other’s theories. They get wound up in each others fantasies and carried away with the momentum of those ideas (as Robespierre learned in the above picture of The French Revolution…) People seek social inclusion and wish to avoid being ‘left out’. They attend the same conferences and read the same journals. In short “they suck their own exhaust” (to use the computer hacker term for it).

So, in a modestly non-technical posting, I’m left to wonder: Just how much of Hadley code was modeled on GIStemp? Just how much “method” came from the same “peer reviewed publication”? Just how much is the temperature history of the planet driven by one or two key beliefs, widely shared? Like the notion that the Reference Station Method can be applied repeatedly out to 1200 km (per time, with additive effects) constantly smearing data to where there are none; or the notion that in gridding and boxing it’s “OK” to use a single Island Airport to fill in dozens of ocean boxes around that location. (Paying no attention to the Airport Heat Island effect).

Basically, is the reason that HadCrut and GIStemp agree so much an artifact of their creators agreeing so much? And thus writing code that does substantially the same broken things? Is this, at it’s core, a coup of “Group Think” and the incestuous nature of ideas in “scientific research” in a narrow field?

We will know when HadCrut methods and code are released. I’m waiting with plenty of disk space and CPU cycles to run it, polishing my computer version of “The National Razor“, and ready to dissect it… One can only hope that the Thermometer Kings understand that even a member of the proletariat, such as myself, can operate “The National Razor” (on their code) when the time comes…

Original (with working links in the comment) on this forum, down in the comments:,1879_lastpage,yes

From a poster going by the name “Iridium”

Re: Petite note sur les températures
“un réchauffement naturel causerait aussi une anomalie de température de surface et que par conséquent, cette anomalie n’est pas plus une preuve en faveur du RCA que les autre phénomènes”

Tu as raison sur la première partie de la phrase.
La seule différence c’est que l’anomalie de température telle qu’elle est raportée par le GISS ou HadCrut par exemple n’est pas explicable avec seulement des causes naturelles (enfin, c’est ce qu’on nous dit): elle est trop importante par rapport à ce qui est attendu avec les causes naturelles.

Si on arrive à donner une explication purement naturelle du réchauffement observé, que ce soit par amélioration de nos connaissance nous donnant une meilleure compréhension du système climatique et/ou en faisant une reconstruction correcte de l’anomalie de température ayant pour conséquence de diminuer le réchauffement observé, alors le reste (niveau des océans, fonte des glaces etc) ne peut plus être utilisé comme preuve du RCA.

Non pas que ça en soit actuellement une preuve, en toute logique ça n’est au mieux qu’une preuve de réchauffement, mais ces résultats sont souvent utilisés et présenté comme preuve du réchauffement d’origine anthropogénique.
Tu as peut être déjà entendu des trucs du genre “une accumulation de preuve contre le RCA”, “soutenu par des miliers de scientifiques”, etc

En fait la théorie ne tient actuellement que sur l’anomalie de température, en particulier celles depuis 1850 environ, c’est à dire, d’après IPCC AR4:
– la reconstruction du GISS. principalement ce papier (accès limité)
– la reconstruction du HadCrut. principalement ce papier
– la reconstruction de Lugina. principalement ce papier et des info ici
– et celle de Smith et Reynolds. Principalement ce papier

Hadcrut: il n’y a qu’une liste de stations potentiellement utilisées disponible: pas les données utilisées, ni le code utilisé pour les calculs: autant dire néant.
Lugina: pas de listes de stations utilisées, donc va savoir…
Smith et Reynolds: je n’ai pas encore eu le temps de creuser par ce qu’il y a beaucoup à faire sur la dernière, donc pas d’avis tranché si ce n’est un avis général sur les méthodes d’homogénéization, avis commun à ces 4 reconstructions
GISS: code et data disponible (qui va deviner le pourquoi du comment ? ) mais pas d’explication du comment du pourquoi, seulement le code source. Pour cette partie je n’ai pas les compétences pour tout comprendre, mais ce blog (bouhou! mais au moins, il y a assez de détails pour vérifier les affirmations faites, et ça ça a pas de prix!) a quelques articles intéressants sur le code du GISS. C’est surprenant, mais c’est biaisé vers le chaud… bizarre…

voilà à quoi tient le RCA.. C’est pas ce que j’appelle du solide-solide et pourtant c’est ça qui se cache derrière les affirmations “ammoncellement de preuves irréfutables” et “milliers de scientifiques “: des données non disponibles, des codes pourris, 4 groupes de recherches utilisant des méthodes non indépendantes (car ils utilisent les mêmes approximations et méthodes générales) donc on pourrait considére leurs résultats comme n’étant en fait qu’un seul et même résultat, le tout devant représenter 10 personnes. C’est moins bling-bling d’un coup.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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33 Responses to GIStemp. Pas d’un coup?

  1. Bishop Hill says:

    I know Jones has refused to release his data, but what about his code? Has anyone ever asked for it?

    REPLY: I don’t know. But code without data is less than half a loaf. It is better than nothing, but you must then guess what went in to make what came out. The complete set is: data, code, methodology. The code can imply what the methodology was supposed to be, but the code can have bugs. The data lets you test that the product does, in fact, come from the code as written. There is a synergy between the parts… -ems.

  2. Iridium says:

    Oh gosh! I am all shaky now! first time one of my online french thoughts is considered by someone whom I appreciate their work.

    To clear things up (in case), I am not speaking about conspiracy, as I don’t think people are smart enough for that. I like the “group think” idea.

    My point is about the too many times repeated argument that “proof of human climate change are overwhelming” “thousands of scientists are working on it and are supporting it” and so on. But when one looks on things closely, everything holds on unprecedent temperature records that are 4 reconstructions and about 10 peoples (based on the names on the 4 papers presenting the reconstructions).
    “trillions of proof by zillions of scientists” is just an illusion for ignorants.
    I don’t say human GHG induced climate change is wrong, I say it is not scientifically supported and therefore cannot at the moment be considered right.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    Perhaps a nice Chablis will take care of the shaky feeling? ;-)

    I had not intended to imply your post was about “conspiracy”, it is not. I have clarified the original posting a bit and hope that is now clear. But “other folks” often like to bring up the idea of “conspiracy” when one talks of folks “working together”, so I wished only to set that aside…

    And yes, you are very correct. The more you look, the fewer workers you find.

    As one Australian once observed (about Americans, unfortunately ;-) “The more you get to know them, the less of them there is.” (He was complaining that Americans were like an upside down pyramid, the deeper you went, the shallower “we” were; where for Aussies it was the other way around; most was hidden from public view.) The AGW support is like that too. The deeper you dig, the less you find. And at the tip of it all is a few temperature series from 4 places with about 10 people…

    So yes, the “issue” is exactly as you put it: It is not thousands and thousands, it is less than a dozen in 4 places.

    Si vous préférez, nous parlons un peu du Frances. Mais j’ai un problème avec l’épellation ;-) … Et le bilingue est toujours très bien aussi.

  4. Iridium says:

    “nice Chablis” sounds redundant :)

    Thank you for making the conspiracy issue clearer, and as I said I was a bit shaking yesterday, I wasn’t sure to understand what you wanted to say.

    Again, I like the “group think” expression, in French we could have said “moutons” (implying “moutons de Panurge”, quite bad meaning) or “instinct grégaire” (more neutral meaning).

    Et bonne chance pour la suite de votre travail sur les codes climatiques, je lis toujours les résultats avec beaucoup d’intérêt.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    Redundant? Yes. Just like “deep rich Bourdeaux”, “effervescent joyous Champaign”, “young, fresh and delicious Beaujolais”. French wines are full of such redundancies 8-)

    I don’t know where “group think” originated, but it is the most neutral phrase. It implies the accidental alignment of thought patterns from simple proximity.

    Other English phrases for (almost) the same thing as “group think” but more negative are:

    “Sheep mentality” or “Like a herd of sheep” – meaning all following any leader. (Implying weak will and shallow minds).

    “Like lemmings off a cliff” – as lemmings are reputed to follow any lead lemming off any cliff into the ocean to drown. Which implies an astounding stupidity. (Though the reality is that they are near sighted and need to swim across many modest ponds in their migration and simply can not see that the ocean is not a small pond…)

    The French phrase, as is often the case, is more rich with history and literature. I enjoyed the story when I looked it up:

    That I would roughly translate as:

    Panurge is a character of François Rabelais, Pantagruel’s companion, son of Gargantua.
    During their trip to the “Land of Lanterns”: Panurge began to quarrel, while at sea, with the merchant Dindenault. In revenge, he bought one of Dindenault’s sheep, which he then plunged into the sea. The bleating example of the latter led its peers (the rest of the herd) to follow, and the dealer himself, who, clinging to the last sheep as it leapt into the sea, drowned.

    Sounds about right as a description of the AGW folks to me!

    Je vous remercie pour vos pensées!

  6. Rob R says:


    You might like to have a look at the Roger Pielke (Snr) website “climatescience”. Re has a very interesting post on temperature vs elevation and the impact this has on long term climate records if the recording sites change location. There are potential warming/cooling biases that can enter the record.

    My thought is: how does this concept apply to the “march of the thermometres”? Would a gradual change in the average elevation of thermometers across the globe bias the trend in the global temperature anomaly?

    REPLY: I’ll take a look. I would expect that change of latitude would behave rather like changes of elevation. You find the same types of plants and animals at altitude in many cases that you find as you get closer to the poles. In many ways, the two metrics are interchangeable. (Hours of daylight by month is one of the ways that is not interchangeable).

  7. Keiros says:

    Hello E.M.

    I really enjoy reading your posts.

    I discovered your blog by reading your comments at “Watts Up With That?” and I think that I will become one of your regular readers ;-)

    To tell the truth, I used to be a “mouton de Panurge” and an “AGW believer”. Ironically, that’s Al Gore’s movie and inconsistancies in his “demonstrations” that woke up my skepticism and led me to start questionning the whole AGW “theory”, the reliability of its data and the validity of its conclusions.

    To Iridium: I’m French too, and liked your comment on the “Forum Zététique”.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Welcome! We all wake up sometime. I started looking at the AGW “science” because I thought it was an important issue to understand since we were screwing up the planet with CO2… The more I looked, the more I found it was a broken thesis. When I finally got inside GIStemp, I was appalled at how poorly written it is. And a skeptic / sceptique was born.

    Also, FWIW, I agree with my English teacher who said “English is German after the French got through with it.” ;-)

    English is “joined at the hip” with French. Our oldest core words derive from German (swine, ox, father, mother) but the newer and more “cultured” words come from the royal court of the 400 year Norman French occupation of England (pork, beef, mortgage, and we are still struggling to find a replacement for Champaign since you decided that we can not use it for our bubbly wine… 8-) One can hardly talk about law and contracts without resort to French words. And we will not mention the complete dominance of cooking terms… Et les mots scientifique! …

    What is the English word for:

    Razor, Rasoir

    and tens of thousands of others…

    Most of the time, we differ only in that the English words were an oral tradition, so the spelling became confused or confounded. …devient confuse ou confondu

    So you are welcome here, whatever age or spelling of French you préfère…

  9. 3x2 says:


    My point is about the too many times repeated argument that “proof of human climate change are overwhelming” “thousands of scientists are working on it and are supporting it” and so on. But when one looks on things closely, everything holds on unprecedent temperature records that are 4 reconstructions and about 10 peoples (based on the names on the 4 papers presenting the reconstructions).

    That, for me, is why it (AGW) is such a house of cards. It matters not one jot that there may be a “mountain of evidence”. If the evidence flows out from GIStemp and there is a problem with GIStemp then the entire mountain has a problem no matter how big it has grown.

    At least with GISS the data and code are available. Basing your mountain on the rival “the dog ate our source data” seems even more foolhardy.

    The satellite data may be more reliable and truly global but is too short to jump to conclusions.

    That’s the foundation covered, lets not even venture into the wonderful world of reconstruction.

  10. Peter Dunford says:

    Is ten people across four groups a big enough / concentrated enough (?) “group” for “group think” to set in? Perhaps, given the limited numbers working in the field (that being producing ‘official’ reconstructions of past temperatures, I suppose).

    When you read Steve M’s blog, it becomes clear from the unguarded minutes and emails dug up (thank god for the unguarded comment) that many of the supporting works of AGW are riddled with examples of methodology and selection of data being compromised, slanted, in favour of that which provides confirmation of the ‘right’ result. This infects every aspect of their work, especially the discarding of data deemed incorrect, or inconsistent, with the expected results. A long winded way of saying confirmation bias, I suppose.

    However, there is a large governmental (both politician and civil servant) contingent that has seized on AGW as a means of greater control. Many of them even believe in it, because they only read the executive summaries approved for them to read, and don’t get into the detail. And because they don’t want to appear out-of-step.

    So the work done by people like you, EM Smith, by Steve M, Anthony Watts, and many, many others is SO important. The failure of temperatures to match model projections will always be explained away. “The models aren’t wrong, it’s just a bit of natural variability.” Even “You see, if it’s less than 30 years it’s weather, not climate.” (I know they don’t say weather lasts for just under thirty years, yet. Give them time. Climate’s thirty years, weather is anything less.)

    I would say that 90% of people I broach the AGW subject with don’t have the time or inclination to dig deeper. They soak up what the media says, with a variable degree of suspicion. Of the rest, 90% who have looked into it don’t trust the AGW hypothesis. What amazes me is the remainder that do.

    For myself, it’s not a matter of belief. It’s quite clear that we don’t have any trustworthy temperature data on which to build an AGW hypothesis. End of the story-so-far. We just don’t know.

    Therefore, when the debate finally moves on in the mind of policy makers – lets call it “catch-up” – the next problem will be voicing of “the precautionary principle”.

    “All that CO2 in the atmosphere MUST be doing something…”

    “We don’t know it’s NOT happening…”

    And even, “All those ‘urban’ and ‘airport’ HEAT islands, they don’t call them heat for nothing, are REAL, they MUST be doing SOMEthing.

    The battles are far from won. Keep up the good work. Nice to see some French people unconvinced. They need to be louder. The French have a significant voice in the EU. Where are the German skeptics?

  11. Roger Knights says:

    Here are six factors that I think have created a group of leading AWGers with a partisan/groupthink mindset, and also created an environment in which they could flourish:

    Ted Turner’s grant to the UN,
    the payments to the undeveloped countries,
    the template of ozone-depleting CFGs,
    a modernist bias, and
    “knowledge cartels.”

    I think there are also several other factors, most importantly that official Science has finally risen to a high enough social position that it has “gotten above itself” and succumbed to pride, putting too much belief in the supposedly self-correcting nature of its procedures (the scientific method and peer review) and the integrity and objectivity of its personnel, and ignoring the social and political aspect that goes into the formation of scientific consensuses.

    1. The UN’s IPCC was set up to please Ted Turner, a warmist who donated a billion $ to the UN for general purposes, and who requested it. It was then staffed by fanatical warmists. The UN’s agenda is to repay their alarmist benefactor, and possibly to induce further donations.

    2. Since warmism involves payments from the West to the undeveloped countries, a majority at the UN favors the warmists’ position. This likely also has an influence on the “watermelon” activists in Greenpeace, etc.

    3. The discovery that Freon was responsible for the widening ozone holes at the poles may have created a “template” for Hansen and other warmists. I remember following news reports about this hypothesis at the time. My recollection is that the subtlety and indirectness of the process, via various knock-on effects, was a mind-boggler and aroused skepticism at first. It took several years for opinion leaders to come around. I suspect Hansen feels the resistance he’s encountered is just a replay of the ozone-hole resistance.

    4. Extracts from Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads (2006)
    By Joel Best (U. of California Press)

    p. 4: In our society, most serious institutions—medicine, science, business, education, criminal justice, and so on—experience what we can call institutional fads.

    p. 16: Consider three cases from the 1980s: [the author cites the widespread diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, quality circles, and cold fusion.]

    p. 18: While the innovation is spreading, it is easy to believe, to dismiss the skeptics. … Their proponents often are respected figures in their professions, and their claims receive serious, deferential attention in the media.

    p. 36: Often there are overtones of urgency—we must act now, we can’t afford to wait, because things will soon get worse and we’ll fall further behind. This is what many institutional fads offer—the promise of a sudden, wonder-working, paradigm-shifting, revolutionary, quantum-leap breakthrough.

    pp. 82-83: Fads … can be fun. When people are aware that an innovation is spreading, they often feel excited. There is a widespread sense that being part of a big, important change has something thrilling, even joyful about it.

    pp. 84-85: It is easy to find excitement in doing something different, if only because change breaks the boredom of routine. … There is pride in being a pioneer, one of the early adopters—the first kid on your block.
    This enthusiasm may cause a rush toward wholesale adoption. …
    People also find comfort in being part of the in crowd, in joining with other adopters. To the degree that you admire the trend-setters, you will be pleased to join them. … You’re now an insider, a status that is part of the appeal of stylishness. The feeling that you have made the right choice is not just personal (“it’s the right choice for me”) but also social (“Others will see that I’ve made the right choice”).

    Pp 88-89: Adopters often also feel a sense of superiority because they have opportunities to exercise power. Once an organization’s leaders have adopted some innovation, they may require their subordinates to get with the program—to attend training workshops, adopt the new lingo, and so on.
    [Summing up,] institutional fads spread because individuals within organizations experience boredom, hope, pride, status seeking, status anxiety, and other feelings, and then decide to adopt the novelty that promises to improve things and make them feel better. As a result, members bring their organizations onto the bandwagon …. Organizations experience two sorts of bandwagon pressures, both of which have their parallels among individuals: first, the knowledge that other organizations have adopted a novelty pulls us to think we ought to do the same; second, worries that our competitors may be taking advantage of the innovation to get the jump on us pushes us to act.

    pp. 90-92: In addition, they [people] may calculate that adoption [of a novelty] offers advantages to them personally. Consider the plight of Professor Alice, this chapter’s imaginary figure; she has just received her Ph.D. … [but] she will not receive tenure and promotion to associate professor unless she publishes some articles in scholarly journals.
    Scholarly journals won’t publish anything that doesn’t say something new … . But there are already bookcases full of studies of Shakespeare and Jane Austen. What’s left for Professor Alice to write about?
    Professor Alice has seen an article in a newsmagazine about physicists studying something called “chaos theory.” The name sounds promising. Professor Alice hasn’t taken physics since high school, but she already has ideas for a title—something along the lines of “Kingdoms in Chaos: The Physics of Royal Courts in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Professor Alice’s tenure is virtually assured.

    Individuals often find advantages in hooking their wagons to some rising enthusiasm. … Becoming associated with a trendy novelty suggests to others that you are with it, on top of things, in the know, progressive, forward-looking—and all of those other chichés that assign approval to pioneers of novelty. Often, there are intimations of generational rivalries: those advocating changes are young lions, willing to stand up against the old guard. Institutional fads offer a rationale for turning the reins over to a new generation that is not mired in the past, one that welcomes the future.

    pp. 94-95: Professor Alice … illustrate[s] the importance of careerism—making choices that will advance one’s career—in the spread of such fads.
    Whenever an organization adopts an innovation,, there is the possibility that parts of the organization will change. Maybe new jobs, such as director of appraisal planning, will appear. … The organization will be—at least to some degree—in flux, which will almost certainly create opportunities. … And, of course, if a novelty comes endorsed by your supervisors … actively resisting the change may put your career at risk. It can be much easier to go along with the changes.

    p. 113: We can think of diffusion—the enduring spread of some novelty—as taking two forms. One form involves the choices of many individuals …. The other form of diffusion involves the establishment of institutional arrangements that make it harder to drop the innovation.

    p. 127: People … are much less inclined to publicize their decision to abandon a fad. There are too many embarrassing interpretations. Did they make an unwise choice? Didn’t they know what they were doing? Were they sufficiently prudent, or did they rush into something they didn’t understand?

    p. 19: These fads aren’t free. Just as “fashion victims” waste their money on unattractive clothing styles, there are fad victims. … Alternative uses for these resources fall by the wayside. … Alienation and cynicism can result.

    5. A modernist bias: a desire by opinion leaders to seem modern and accepting of sophisticated arguments, instead of trusting in the untutored, non-expert, common sense view that climate is always changing. A desire to be on the side of the modern science of ecology and concern for the earth.

    6. Knowledge cartels:

    Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels

    Professor Emeritus of Chemistry & Science Studies
    Dean Emeritus of Arts & Sciences
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

    Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 643–660, 2004

    Click to access 21stCenturyScience.pdf

    Supposedly authoritative information about the most salient science-related matters has become dangerously misleading because of the power of bureaucracies that co-opt or control science.

    Science as an Institution

    Dysfunction and obsolescence begin to set in, unobtrusively but insidiously, from the very moment that an institution achieves pre-eminence. The leading illustration of this Parkinson’s Law (Parkinson, 1958) was the (British) Royal Navy. Having come to rule the seas, the Navy slowly succumbed to bureaucratic bloat. The ratio of administrators to operators rose inexorably, and the Navy’s purpose, defense of the realm, became subordinate to the bureaucracy’s aim of serving itself. The changes came so gradually that it was decades before their effect became obvious.

    Science attained hegemony in Western culture toward the end of the 19th century (Barzun, 2000: 606–607; Knight, 1986). This very success immediately sowed seeds of dysfunction: it spawned scientism, the delusive belief that science and only science could find proper answers to any and all questions that human beings might ponder. Other dysfunctions arrived later: funding through bureaucracies, commercialization, conflicts of interest. But the changes came so gradually that it was the latter stages of the 20th century before it became undeniable that things had gone seriously amiss.

    It remains to be appreciated that 21st-century science is a different kind of thing than the ‘‘modern science’’ of the 17th through 20th centuries; there has been a ‘‘radical, irreversible, structural’’ ‘‘world-wide transformation in the way that science is organized and performed’’ (Ziman, 1994). Around 1950, Derek Price (1963/1986) discovered that modern science had grown exponentially, and he predicted that the character of science would change during the latter part of the 20th century as further such growth became impossible. One aspect of that change is that the scientific ethos no longer corresponds to the traditional ‘‘Mertonian’’ norms of disinterested skepticism and public sharing; it has become subordinate to corporate values. Mertonian norms made science reliable; the new ones described by Ziman (1994) do not.


    One symptom of change, identifiable perhaps only in hindsight, was science’s failure, from about the middle of the 20th century on, to satisfy public curiosity about mysterious phenomena that arouse wide interest: psychic phenomena, UFOs, Loch Ness Monsters, Bigfoot. By contrast, a century earlier, prominent scientists had not hesitated to look into such mysteries as mediumship, which had aroused great public interest.

    My claim here is not that UFOs or mediumship are phenomena whose substance belongs in the corpus of science; I am merely suggesting that when the public wants to know ‘‘What’s going on when people report UFOs?’’, the public deserves an informed response. It used to be taken for granted that the purpose of science was to seek the truth about all aspects of the natural world. That traditional purpose had been served by the Mertonian norms: Science disinterestedly and with appropriate skepticism coupled with originality seeks universally valid knowledge as a public good.

    These norms imply that science is done by independent, self-motivated individuals. However, from about the middle of the 20th century and in certain situations, some mainstream organizations of science were behaving not as voluntary associations of independent individuals but as bureaucracies. Popular dissatisfaction with some of the consequences stimulated ‘‘New Age’’ movements. ….

    A more widely noticed symptom was the marked increase in fraud and cheating by scientists. In 1981, the U. S. Congress held hearings prompted by public disclosure of scientific misconduct at 4 prominent research institutions. Then, science journalists Broad and Wade (1982) published their sweeping indictment, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science. It has become almost routine to read in the NIH Guide of researchers who admitted to fraud and were then barred from certain activities for some specified number of years. In 1989, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established an Office of Scientific Integrity. So prevalent was dishonesty that the new academic specialty of ‘‘research ethics’’ came into being. Professional scientific organizations drafted or revised codes of ethics. Various groups, including government agencies, attempted to make prescriptive for researchers what had traditionally been taken for granted, namely, something like the Mertonian norms.

    This epidemic of cheating in the latter part of the 20th century meant, clearly enough, that an increasing number of scientists were seeking to serve their personal interests instead of the public good of universal knowledge.
    Throughout the history of modern science, the chief safeguard of reliability was communal critiquing (Ziman, 2000). Science begins as hunches. Those that work out become pieces of frontier science. If competent peers think it worthy of attention, an item gets published in the primary research literature. If other researchers find it useful and accurate, eventually the knowledge gets into review articles and monographs and finally into textbooks. The history of science demonstrates that, sooner or later, most frontier science turns out to need modifying or to have been misleading or even entirely wrong. Science employs a knowledge filter that slowly separates the wheat from the chaff (Bauer, 1992: chapter 3; see Figure 1).

    This filter works in proportion to the honesty and disinterestedness of peer reviewers and researchers. In the early days of modern science, before knowledge became highly specialized and compartmentalized, knowledge-seekers could effectively critique one another’s claims across the board. Later and for a time, there were enough people working independently on a given topic that competent, disinterested critiques could often be obtained. Since about the middle of the 20th century, however, the costs of research and the need for teams of cooperating specialists have made it increasingly difficult to find reviewers who are both directly knowledgeable and also disinterested; truly informed people are effectively either colleagues or competitors. Correspondingly, reports from the big science bureaucracies do not have the benefit of independent review before being issued.

    Price (1963/1986) saw the exploding costs of research after WWII as a likely mechanism for bringing to an end the era of exponentially growing science. The mentioned symptoms may indeed be traced to the escalating costs of research and the continuing expansion of the number of would-be researchers without a proportionate increase in available funds. The stakes became very high. Researchers had to compete more and more vigorously, which tended to mean more unscrupulously. The temptation became greater to accept and solicit funds and patrons while ignoring tangible or moral attached strings.
    Unrealistic expectations coupled with misunderstanding of how science works led to the unstated presumption that good science could be expanded and accelerated by recruiting more scientists. Instead, of course, the massive infusion of government funds since WWII had inevitably deleterious consequences. More researchers translate into less excellence and more mediocrity. Journeymen peer-reviewers tend to stifle rather than encourage creativity and genuine innovation. Centralized funding and centralized decision-making make science more bureaucratic and less an activity of independent, self-motivated truth-seekers. Science attracts careerists instead of curiosity-driven idealists. Universities and individuals are encouraged to view scientific research as a cash cow to bring in money as ‘‘indirect costs’’ for all sorts of purposes, instead of seeking needed funds for doing good science. The measure of scientific achievement becomes the amount of ‘‘research support’’ brought in, not the production of useful knowledge.
    Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels

    Skepticism toward research claims is absolutely necessary to safeguard reliability. In corporate settings, where results are expected to meet corporate goals, criticism may be brushed off as disloyalty, and skepticism is thereby suppressed. As Ziman (1994) pointed out, the Mertonian norms of ‘‘academic’’ science have been replaced by norms suited to a proprietary, patent- and profit-seeking environment in which researchers feel answerable not to a universally valid standard of trustworthy knowledge but to local managers. A similar effect, the suppression of skepticism, results from the funding of science and the dissemination of results by or through non-profit bureaucracies such as the NIH or agencies of the United Nations.

    While the changes in the circumstances of scientific activity were quite gradual for 2 or 3 centuries, they have now cumulated into a change in kind. Corporate science, Big Science, is a different kind of thing than academic science, and society needs to deal with it differently. Large institutional bureaucracies now dominate the public face of science. Long-standing patrons—private foundations like Rockefeller and Ford, charitable organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society—have been joined and dwarfed by government bureaucracies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NIH, and the National Science Foundation, which, in turn, are being overshadowed by international bodies like the World Bank and various agencies of the United Nations—the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, UNAIDS, and more. Statements, press releases, and formal reports from these bodies often purport to convey scientific information, but in reality these releases are best viewed as propaganda designed to serve the corporate interests of the bureaucracies that issue them.
    The upshot is that policy makers and the public generally do not realize that there is doubt about, indeed evidence against, some theories almost universally viewed as true, about issues of enormous public import: global warming; healthy diet, heart-disease risk-factors, and appropriate medication; HIV/AIDS; gene therapy; stem cells; and more.

    ‘‘Everyone knows’’ that promiscuous burning of fossil fuels is warming up global climates. Everyone does not know that competent experts dispute this and that official predictions are based on tentative data fed into computer models whose validity could be known only many decades hence (Crichton, 2003).
    What ‘‘everyone knows’’ about the science related to major public issues, then, often fails to reflect the actual state of scientific knowledge. In effect, there exist knowledge monopolies composed of international and national bureaucracies. Since those same organizations play a large role in the funding of research as well as in the promulgation of findings, these monopolies are at the same time research cartels. Minority views are not published in widely read periodicals, and unorthodox work is not supported by the main funding organizations. Instead of disinterested peer review, mainstream insiders insist on their point of view in order to perpetuate their prestige and privileged positions. That is the case even on so academic a matter as the Big-Bang theory of the universe’s origin.
    It is not that knowledge monopolies are able to exercise absolute censorship. Contrary views are expressed, but one must know where to look for them; so one must already have some reason to make the effort. That constitutes a vicious circle. Moreover, the contrarian view will often seem a priori unreliable or politically partisan, as already noted. Altogether, people exposed chiefly to mainstream media will likely never suspect—will have no reason to suspect—that there could exist a credible case different from the officially accepted one.

    The conventional wisdom about these matters is continually reinforced by publicly broadcast snippets that underscore the official dogma. What other reason might there be to publicize, for example, the guesstimate that global warming will cause an increase in asthma attacks (Daily Telegraph, 2004)? This is just another ‘‘fact’’ to convince us that we must curb the use of coal, gas, and oil.

    The ills of contemporary science—commercialization, fraud, untrustworthy public information—are plausibly symptoms of the crisis, foreseen by Derek Price (1963/1986), as the era of exponentially growing modern science comes to an end. Science in the 21st century will be a different animal from the so-called ‘‘modern science’’ of the 17th to 20th centuries. The question is not whether to reform the science we knew, but whether society can arrange the corporate, commercialized science of the future so that it can continue to expand the range of trustworthy knowledge. Ziman (1994: 276) points out that any research organization requires ‘‘generous measures’’ of

    _ room for personal initiative and creativity;
    _ time for ideas to grow to maturity;
    _ openness to debate and criticism;
    _ hospitality toward novelty;
    _ respect for specialized expertise.

    These describe a free intellectual market in which independent thinkers interact, and there may be a viable analogy with economic life. Economic free markets are supposed to be efficient and socially useful because the mutually competitive ventures of independent entrepreneurs are self-corrected by an ‘‘invisible hand’’ that regulates supply to demand; competition needs to be protected against monopolies that exploit rather than serve society. So, too, the scientific free market in which peer review acts as an invisible hand (Harnad, 2000) needs to be protected from knowledge monopolies and research cartels. Anti-trust actions are called for.

    Where public funds are concerned, legislation might help. When government agencies support research or development ventures, they might be required to allocate, say, 10% of the total to competent people of past achievement who hold contrarian views.
    It should also be legislated that scientific advisory panels and grant-reviewing arrangements include representatives of views that differ from the mainstream.
    Where legislation is being considered about public policy that involves scientific issues, a Science Court might be established to arbitrate between mainstream and variant views, something discussed in the 1960s but never acted upon.

    Ombudsman offices might be established by journals, consortia of journals, private foundations, and government agencies to investigate charges of misleading claims, unwarranted publication, unsound interpretation, and the like. The existence of such offices could also provide assistance and protection for whistle-blowers.

    Sorely needed is vigorously investigative science journalism, so that propaganda from the knowledge bureaucracies is not automatically passed on. To make this possible, the media need to know about and have access to the whole spectrum of scientific opinion on the given issue. The suggestions made above would all provide a measure of help along that line. A constant dilemma for reporters is that they need access to sources, and if they publish material that casts doubt on the official view, they risk losing access to official sources.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    I don’t know that there are any specific sizes required for “mass delusion”. Just more than one ;-)

    We have Czech skeptics, Russian skeptics, French skeptics.

    Germany seems to be following the same regimented line that caused it to be “caught out” on the wrong side of history a couple of times before. Not enough independents? It is popular there to defer to authorities; with the expected results.

    England has some skeptics, but they are politely waiting their turn while the warmers are monopolizing the public microphone. Nervously checking their watch and looking to see if they have the same color shoes as everyone else… and the right color of umbrella…

    Scandinavia seems to be following the German lead, but with a fair number of good scientists asking pesky questions (like how solar activity modulates clouds).

    Then there are the warm coastal nations like Italy, Greece and maybe Spain and Portugal who mostly seem to view it from a distance, like so many other things that have descended on them from up north (a couple of world wars come to mind). Just another northern distraction tying to pull them away from a nice day at the beach or night on the town… maybe they will become involved in it tomorrow… after dinner, and maybe after the dance… Oh, all right, if you insist, we’ll support whatever it was you were droning on about. Now where is that chianti… Eh, Maria, you busy? Dance in the square tonight!

    And the eastern europeans are looking both east and west and wondering if they ought to embrace the position of the Russian Bear or ask the west for more money. Decisions decisions.

    China is just being inscrutably Chinese. Promising to play well with others, while making up their own impenetrable rules and conditions that assure they will win the economic race. (Sure we support carbon limits, as a percent based on national GDP per capita… so we’ll cut back just after we make more money than anyone else.)

    But what bothers me the most about it all: It looks to be shaping up as yet another U.S. Craze that has swept the world with mild dementia and once it passes, will have folks wondering why they followed our nutty lead again… (Remember hula hoops and beehive hairdoos? Tie Died shirts and plaid bell bottoms? Leisure suits? “Air Pumps” sneakers at $100+ a pair? Chia pets and pet rocks? …)

    And it all comes down to bad thermometers, constantly changing over time, run through the GIStemp blender to become “Pasteurized processed homogenized data food product” and not fit to chose what coat to wear, let alone drive global decisions on $Billions of growth.

    When the next couple of winters are incredibly brutal it will be very hard to prevent the lynching of the folks who perpetrated the warming fraud. When folks are cold and hungry, they get very very cranky. Ask the French nobility when they were faced with the bread riots and the National Razor…

  13. JimB says:

    I too, have always enjoyed your comments on WUWT, and am glad to have found your own blog.

    Regarding comments above:
    “And it all comes down to bad thermometers, constantly changing over time, run through the GIStemp blender to become “Pasteurized processed homogenized data food product” and not fit to chose what coat to wear, let alone drive global decisions on $Billions of growth.”

    To put it more simply, “Everything is marketing” :) and AGW is one fantastically marketable product. It has all of the best attributes, and will likely turn out to be one of, if not THE, best examples of all time (For a much simpler example of this, just watch Wag The Dog).


  14. E.M.Smith says:


    Thank you.

    To some extent, yes. To the extent marketing depends on things that “sound good” regardless of actual truth and to the extent that the “home run” in marketing is a fad (and AGW is clearly a fad…) the two are quite clearly the same …

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Roger Knights:

    I’m still chewing on that comment. There is a lot there to digest. It has the “ring of truth” to it…

  16. 3x2 says:

    EMS – I know this is the wrong thread but could you do me a little favour?

    On an earlier thread you had an output file from GIStemp that listed stations used (missing data infill) and number of times a particular station was used.

    Could you look up and post 651-3334 – Manchester Airport for me please (if it is in the file of course)


  17. Craig Goodrich says:

    We have reached the point where the only reliable temperature data is Christy’s UAH-MSU; RSS has apparently been corrupted by “correcting” to show NOAA’s step around 1992 when Siberia shut down, and MD is apparently a new set established to fix the fact that UAH shows no warming.

    The surface averages are all in the hands of suspicious characters.

    Geez. This is science?

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    @3×2: Yeah, I’ll look it up.

    @Craig Goodrich:

    That is basically the point I’ve reached. Hadley CRU has :”the dog ate my homework” problem. GIS is, as I’ve shown here, incredibly broken and does a fair amount of biased “cherry picking” of parameters. The others are as you have noted.

    And shows that all the land sources have “issues” with site compliance that makes the 1/10 C place useless and the whole degree place suspect at best.

    Is this Science? Very bad science maybe. Historically we’ve had charlatans and frauds and a fair number of self deluded folks too. Remember Piltdown Man

    and Pons and Fleischmann truely believed (still believe?) they have found cold nuclear fusion inside palladium and I still can’t find a definitive answer (there may be none.)

    So is it science? I’d say yes, of a sort, but not in the kind of company in which I would want to be found…

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    It looks like Manchester is treated as an Urban station and gets adjusted, rather than doing the adjustment:

    In the STEP2 work_files directory, it does not show up in the list of “used” stations for UHI correction source nor in the ‘no adjustment’ list.

    $ ls PApars.*


    $ grep 03334000 PApars.*

    Where the search “grep” finds nothing. Notice that I’m using the 8 character “station and substation ID” without “modification flag” not the “country code and main station ID you gave”. GIStemp wanders back and forth on when it uses the 8 char, the 9 char, the 5 char, the 12 char, etc. qualifier so you must look at what is used in each part to know what search to do. In this part it uses the 9 char so the 8 char substring ought to be the best search key.

    If I’m reading it right, the “station information record” flags it as a “U” urban station:

    $ grep 03334000 ../../STEP0/input_files/v2.inv
    65103334000 MANCHESTER AI 53.35 -2.27 78 50U 490FLxxno-9A 1HEATHS, MOORS C 22

    so it would not participate in the PApars.f UHI correction as a “rural” corrector. Since it has lots of “nearby” stations (up to 1000 km away…) it will be “adjusted” by them and will not show up in the “unadjusted” file either.

    OK a bit of (well earned) paranoia causes me to want to also search with the leading zero suppressed (my comments will be interleaved in the results):

    $grep 3334000 *
    PApars.GHCN.CL.1000.20.log:*** urb stnID: 33340001 # rur: 21 ranges: 1951 2004 Radius: 500.
    PApars.GHCN.CL.1000.20.log:*** urb stnID: 633340000 # rur: 5 ranges: 1955 1980 Radius: 500.
    PApars.GHCN.CL.1000.20.log:*** urb stnID: 633340000 # rur: 12 ranges: 1955 1980 Radius: 1000.

    So it is looked at and they end up looking out to 500 km for stations to use to “adjust” Manchester. (633340000 is DEBREMARCOS which I only left in so folks who replicate what I did as a search will know what they are getting.)

    PApars.list:651033340001 -0.046 -0.221 1993 2.441 -0.066 1.909 1.490 1.631 1951-2004 1950-2005 0

    PApars.noadj.stations.list:117633340000 good years: 0 total years: 1 too little rural-neighbors-overlap – drop station 9999

    Not sure why this pops up. There ought not to be a “station 9999”. Perhaps a “dig here” for a bug? Or just crappy documentation of what it is doing… It is about DEBREMARCOS anyway.

    PApars.statn.log.GHCN.CL.1000.20:year dTs-urban dTs-rural StnID= 33340001
    PApars.statn.log.GHCN.CL.1000.20:year dTs-urban dTs-rural StnID=633340000
    PApars.statn.log.GHCN.CL.1000.20:year dTs-urban dTs-rural StnID=633340000
    padjust.log: station 33340001 MANCHESTER AI UC651 adjusted
    padjust.log: station 33340001 MANCHESTER AI UC651 saved 2
    padjust.log: station 633340000 DEBREMARCOS SA117 skipped
    station.log: 0 633340000 26 20 900 1212
    station.log: 0 33340001 54 20 853 1498

    So basically all this shows is that Manchester is in fact adjusted based on other stations in a 500 km radius.

    In STEP3 where it makes “grid boxes” we have a different story (here we use the 8 char with leading 0 stripped because this step printed it out as an INTEGER rather than character, sigh. Consistency is not their strong suit…):

    $ grep 3334000 statn.use.Ts.GHCN.CL.PA.1200

    used station 33340001 40 times
    used station 33340001 29 times
    used station 33340001 29 times
    used station 33340001 29 times
    used station 33340001 29 times
    used station 33340001 29 times
    used station 33340001 29 times
    used station 33340001 3 times
    used station 33340001 1 times
    used station 33340001 1 times
    used station 33340001 1 times

    So you can see that it is “used” to make many boxes of data around it. I would expect that further looking into the file will show it to be fabricating temperatures in Sea Surface boxes up to 1200 km away. (And remember that it was itself adjusted by stations up to 500 km away so a station 1700 km south of a grid box can be contributing to its warming here…) Any nice arctic boxes 1200 km North (1700 km from “correcting rural station” potentially) that you would like to warm up to the temperature of the Manchester Airport tarmac?

    That “40 times” for example is for “Region 8” which IIRC is just one band down from the N. Pole (I think there are 4 regions at the pole, then you drop down one band, so I’d put that at just about the Arctic Circle 1200 km due north of Manchester. Each region gets 100 boxes, so I would guess this is the southern 40 boxes inside that “region” from about the Arctic Circle to Svalbard area… I would need to do more work to make this analysis exact, but the general idea is correct.

    Hope that answers it for you.

  20. 3x2 says:

    I was just trying to find out how Manchester Airport would influence a long standing series like Plymouth

    Lets hope it is adjusted way down before melting any of the Arctic with it’s 4C / cent (eyeball estimate) rise.

    I suppose it could be considered rural in that it is outside the City but as it handles some 22 million passengers a year and freight it probably qualifies as a small city itself.


  21. Araucan says:

    One thing is the quality of the datas, another is also the assessment of errors, bias and uncertainty of measurement, wich conducts to value on the form of x +/- y.
    Temperatures anomalies are never given with it !
    Even satellite datas have their own uncertainties…

    PS : For french training about GW scepticism… ;)

    [video src="" /]

  22. Kelli Garner says:

    Great site, how do I subscribe?

    REPLY: No subscription needed. BTW, WordPress tossed your comment into the SPAM queue. No idea why, but you might want to check into it.

  23. Jeff Alberts says:

    Probably was spam. Sure looks like a typical spam comment to me.

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, I followed the “web site” link back to a wiki page that looked like a promo for an actress in a series of movies I’d never seen. But it looked like “nice” SPAM ;-)

  25. Keiros says:

    Araucan wrote:

    PS : For french training about GW scepticism… ;)

    [video src="" /]

    Thanks for the French links, where I found a very interesting (and very long ;-) ) explanation of Ferenc Miskolczi’s work (Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres).

    I like the conclusion:

    “La science sur le changement climatique est très claire”, dit Pachauri.

    Vraiment ? Vous trouvez ?
    Pour un économiste ou un ingénieur en chemin de fer, peut-être. Pour un physicien, elle ne l’est pas…

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    One thing is the quality of the datas, another is also the assessment of errors, bias and uncertainty of measurement, wich conducts to value on the form of x +/- y.
    Temperatures anomalies are never given with it !
    Even satellite datas have their own uncertainties…

    The error band on GIStemp ought to be about +/- 1C given the way they do math. The raw input data are in +/- whole degrees of F for the USA and you simply can not ever have more than that accuracy, so your precision can never be more than that. You start adding error with the F to C conversion and all the other math done… So take that 5/9 C of MINIMUM error band and add to it the cumulative error from the additional steps, you begin to approach 9/9 C Pretty Darned Quick – PDQ.

    Oh, and like Keiros, I too thank you for the French links!

    (Though I would point out that for this Économiste “elle ne l’est pas” aussi…)

    Not only do I get to see how another important group is thinking, but I get to refresh my French skills. I fear that my English relatives are doing what they always seem to do: Get all wrapped up in some common belief fantasy and go running as a herd off the cliff. It is at those times that the French penchant for “living life as they see fit, who cares what you think” provides the needed reality anchor.

    Remember the push in England and the USA for margarine? The French said “I would rather die than give up butter!” – and we discovered that the Mediterranean Diet protected the heart. Lately we have learned that “trans fat” is truly evil, and margarine is often up to 1/3 trans fat. The promotion of margarine was exactly the WRONG thing to do, yet the anglo world ran with it and it was the French who simply stood their ground and said “Non!”

    BTW, my Father ate butter and animal fats his whole life including lots of bacon and beef. He refused to use margarine. (I have about 1/8 French ancestry on my Dads side, but it was never made clear to me which grandparents and beyond gave him his 1/4 French; perhaps that was the influence… ) At the autopsy his circulatory system was fine. (he smoked unfiltered Camel cigarettes for 40 years and got lung cancer).

    I have a good friend who’s Dad died of a heart attack. He followed all the advice to avoid animal fats and eat only margarine. He had a heart attack in his early ’50s (saved by a stent). I explained to him the transfat issue. He has been eating butter ever since and passing his physical examinations with flying colors.

    Were it not for the independent thinking of the French, we would be driven even further to extremes by the Anglo / German tendency to follow authority off the cliff.

    Vive La France!

  27. Araucan says:

    I refused also to use margarine ! No problem with that ! ;)

    For discussions see also here, you’re welcome

    For uncertainties, we had the same value

    see here

    and thanks for the links !

  28. Ian Beale says:

    And the different approach to authority when told “You can’t do that!”:-

    Anglo Saxon – “Yes Sir”

    Celt – “Of course I can – I’ve just done it”

  29. E.M.Smith says:


    Good Point! I tend to think of “French-ness” when in fact it may just be a common trait of Celts. (Dad being a mix of Irish, Amish, and some French would have had 3/4 Celt).

    I have a pretty good understanding of French history, and a pretty good understanding of Irish / Scots history; but I’ve not paid close attention to how the two interacted as Celts.

    Somehow I ended up dividing French history into a “Celtic” part and a “French” part. (Probably because that is how it is taught. Celtic until dominated by Rome, then Roman Empire, and only later France). Yet the people will have carried forward many of the ancient ideals and attitudes.

    The Celtic ideal that the individual can do what they want, and may choose to help the group via a common government structure, or not, fits. The notion that “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is a “Celtic Thread” just fits right…

    BTW, the Celtic parts of my family have generally had an attitude that when someone says “You can’t do that!” they simply answer: “Oh yeah? Watch.”

    It would also explain my attitude toward the folks who say “You don’t have a PhD in Climate Science, you can’t say AGW is wrong!”. They get an “Oh yeah? Watch.”

    And that is most likely why I decided to tear into GIStemp and see what it was made of… It’s that old: “You have authority via a piece of paper? Good for you. I have a tool. It is called a Francisca. Let me show you how it works…”

    I think I know what I’m going to call my GIStemp analysis tools from here on out… “Francisca”. I like it!

  30. Keiros says:

    Well, I’ve the feeling that we have been contaminated by some anglo-saxon virus, because supporters of AGW are everywhere, everyday in the French media, while only a few people expressing different views can be heard.

    On TV, only Claude Allegre (former minister of education) stands against the “consensus”, and if I agree with some of his view, I don’t like this guy for a lot of reasons…and most of the French people feel the same, so the more he talks, the more he may convince people that the other side is right.

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    And the snow in Marseille did nothing?

  32. Keiros says:

    Do you mean Marseille? In fact, Marsais also exists, but it is a small town on the Atlantic coast, and snow would be less unusual than in Marseille, which is on the Mediterranée.

    Each time there is an unusually cold period, with snow or ice, the “specialists” explain that warming in a global tendency and that local and limited episodes do not change the trend.

    Looks like a non-falsifiable theory: whether the temperatures are going up or down, they always confirm the same thing.

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    Yes, I meant Marseille … Unfortunately, spelling is not my strong suit and I often spell very phonetically, no matter what language I’m using. No idea why. Seems to be a built in fundamental function :-}

    OK, I corrected my prior comment.

    Yes, I was talking about the snow on the Mediterranée this last winter.

    I would have expected a few heads to turn. The photographs made the papers and magazines…

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