Researcher: a new term of art for #Newscorpfail ?

The Murdoch press has just about run out of scientists it can find to support its various anti-science jihads/crusades#. So, it seems to have come up with a new term of art. The word “researcher” is now the preferred Newscorp description of unqualified rightwingers doing bogus analyses that would never pass muster as peer-reviewed research. (Just to confuse things, the same term is used to describe genuine research.)

A couple of recent instances: Jennifer Marohasy*, a biology PhD who spent quite a few years heading the IPA Science Policy unit is cited as a “climate researcher” disputing the classification of Cyclone Marcia as a Category 5 (this is part of a general conspiracy-theoretic attack on the Bureau of Meteorology).

Steven Cooper, an acoustics engineer who conducted an anti-wind farm study with a sample size of six(!), is also described as a “scientific researcher”.

Are these isolated cases, or can readers point to more along the same line?

# The terms have the same meaning: pick whichever you prefer
* Her name is spelt Morohasy in some reports.

23 thoughts on “Researcher: a new term of art for #Newscorpfail ?

  1. Is Steven Cooper actually a hack like Marohasy? He just seems to be a jobsworth dude that has been dragged into a political war he has no stake in. Admittedly I don’t know much about him.

  2. @Lt. Fred
    That’s my understanding of Steven Cooper as well. It’s the distorted interpretation of his working and implications of cause and effect by The Australian that have thrown him under a bus.

  3. Does this include specialists talking outside their areas of expertise. If it does I guess Lomborg (an economist?), Plimer (a geologist who I have heard much of lately – his stand is ironic given his campaign against Noah’s Arc) or his friends in the the Lavoisier (off with their heads) Group as still available.

    With this in mind we might want to think about the next wave for the Oz after climate denial has been buried when Murdoch croaks or goes senile.

    This will bring a more difficult beast to the fore – how to best ‘adapt’ to ‘reality’ in an ‘economically responsible manner’.

    This will see for certain the re-ignition of the nuclear power debate.

    Beyond that will be a broader debate about resource redistribution in a finite world and whether we can keep growth going or not what a steady state or circular economy (not the same things) would look like, how you regulate people and whether we need degrowth.

  4. Unfortunately, as soon as ‘science’ becomes establishment, attracting funds, it is in danger of freezing over. It is really hard to steer a useful course between Academia and Newsmedia sometimes. If you are really searching for some truth you are often best to go outside of both.

  5. Mahorasy is an ‘adjunct research fellow’ in the Centre for Plant and Water Science. I don’t see how that comes under even a broad definition of ‘climate science’. The CQU links to the Centre’s web page don’t work so it’s impossible to get any better information, but the publications listed at Researchgate are the plant and environmental things you’d expect from an institution with that name.

  6. I can’t believe you’ve overlooked Lord Christopher Monckton, MA, who was lead author in Willie Soon’s last published scientific paper.

  7. While I absolutely agree with concerns here about the motivation and qualifications of Marohassy this cyclone clearly stretched the BOM models. There are references elsewhere to the way Marcia intensified rapidly in a few hours way beyond the forecast of a Cat 2 landing. As just an amateur weather watcher and resident of cyclone prone FNQ I tweeted well before when it was off Mackay that the BOM didn’t have a good handle on this one.

    I would look forward to any scientific review. Yes I have concerns about the potential for Marohasy to misrepresent more broadly in a climate conspiracy context. However this has been going around today up here and my mail on this in FNQ is that nobody particularly is convinced it got to a 5 and broke down to quite an extent just before it got to Rocky.

  8. Well, at least Marohasy has science qualifications, the standard climate change denier is usually an arts or law graduate.

  9. @Mark Beath

    According to BOM a category 5 has the following characteristics [no links, thanks to eternal moderation]:

    maximum mean wind >200kph
    strongest gust >279kph
    central pressure <930kpa

    Also according to BOM records [again no links, thanks to ridiculous and ineffectual censorship software]:

    Cyclone Marcia information estimates (subject to updated information)

    maximum sustained wind speed 205kph
    maximum wind gust 295kph
    lowest central pressure 930hPa

    The remarkable thing about Marcia, to my mind, is not some IPA driven disinformation but its sudden rise and fall (as proven by facts, not ideological arguments about public servants).

    In the usual course of events, a category 5 landing there, we would have had much more flooding and severe weather all the way down the coast and well into NSW. This one came up from nowhere and faded just as quickly once it was over land.

  10. @Newtownian
    ” … when Murdoch croaks or goes senile.” At 83, he’s too old for Alzheimer’s. There are however plenty of other risks at that age: falls, heart attacks, strokes … He could also simply drop below the energy level required for effective tyranny. A behind-the-scenes elder statesman role like Deng Xiaoping’s is not feasible in the culture of Western corporations.

  11. @Ken_L
    Ken, Marohasy operates at almost the same depth as Monckton.

    As for Christopher Monckton, you should not use his name here, for fear of setting John Quiggin off again concerning him.

  12. does anyone here read “the conversation” ? is it just me, or has anyone else noticed recently (say over the last 6-8 weeks) slightly more of its commenters putting “researcher” in the job title field of their profile? -a.v.

  13. I’ve seen “High profile internet commentator” (for “right wing blogger”) a few weeks ago in the Oz when they were attacking the BoM’s record keeping.

  14. Mark and Megan, I read the Weatherzone forums every now and then. There seems to be some dissatisfaction with the criteria for the various categories of cyclone when compared with that for hurricanes. TC Marcia had a relatively small centre. My Grade 8 maths would tell me that the acceleration needed to produce the centripetal force contained in a 70km eye would need to be far greater to produce the same force in an eye of 200-300km ( Yasi?) IOW the same atmospheric conditions would have vastly different effects on the destructive force of different-sized TCs.
    We are very lucky that we have even what information that we *do* have about cyclones. I remember watching (i.e. reading the paper and listening to the radio for) the development of TC Wanda (Jan ’74) from Melbourne and wondering whether we should try to beat it back to Brisbane with two small children. We certainly did not expect such extensive flooding that we were holed up (very comfortably thanks to volunteer hosts) in Warwick for five days.

  15. Is the real motive of the US deep state is to reduce the rest of the world (region by region) back to the stone age? That’s the only motive logically consistent with their real world actions. Either that, or they are just totally crazy.

  16. I note the Weatherzone debate quietened down after reports of destruction in the Byfield area emerged. Regardless of the size and intensity, Marcia has reeked havoc in an area that has not seen even a whiff of a cyclone for almost fourty years.

  17. Graeme Lloyd has a fairly long piece in the weekend bum-wrap, asserting that modification of instrumental data is akin to revisionism, and that climate scientists at BOM are engaging in this behaviour. He quotes from a couple of that rag’s favourite sources to bolster his (non-)argument.

    Aside from the fact that anyone is free to use the unmodified data, they are also free to ponder how to handle an obviously broken thermometer—take its daily readings as true, or discard, or modify based on readings from other thermometers in the local area. No matter which course you take, you are open to criticism by opponents of that approach.

    The one thing that these critics dismiss is that if you use the raw data, you get much the same overall statistical behaviour; the one statistic that might change significantly is that the raw data may have more extreme values, thus altering the extreme value distribution (the tail(s)) at specific locations. If Oona-Woop-Woop records a blazing 95C in April 1st, 1943, retaining that data point—one of tens of thousands—won’t make a skerrick of difference to the Australian average daily maximum, or the mean, or the median; it only makes a difference in the vicinity of Oona-Woop-Woop, on April 1st, 1943.

    If you ask the question “What was the hottest temperature anywhere in Australia at any time during the instrumental record?” then obviously the 95C reading is going to be the winner. If you ask “What was the hottest annual temperature averaged over Australia?” the 95C reading is highly unlikely to make a material difference: it is lost at the second or third decimal place. If you ask someone if they believe this reading of 95C is “correct”, what answer do you think they’d give you?

    The whole argument over adjustments is a confected one: anyone can, and people do, use the unmodified data to see that it behaves almost identically to the modified data. As for removing outliers, pretty much the first thing you learn about in statistics is that you have to think about the outliers in your data, just in case they are spurious (e.g. a broken bit of equipment, a value copied down incorrectly, etc).

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