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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., 4, 451-505, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
03 May 2013
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD). A final paper in ESD is not foreseen.
Agnotology: learning from mistakes
R. E. Benestad1, H. O. Hygen1, R. van Dorland2, J. Cook3, and D. Nuccitelli4
1The Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norway
2The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, The Netherlands
3Global Change Institute, the University of Queensland, Australia
4Tetra Tech, Inc., McClellan, California, USA

Abstract. Replication is an important part of science, and by repeating past analyses, we show that a number of papers in the scientific literature contain severe methodological flaws which can easily be identified through simple tests and demonstrations. In many cases, shortcomings are related to a lack of robustness, leading to results that are not universally valid but rather an artifact of a particular experimental set-up. Some examples presented here have ignored data that do not fit the conclusions, and in several other cases, inappropriate statistical methods have been adopted or conclusions have been based on misconceived physics. These papers may serve as educational case studies for why certain analytical approaches sometimes are unsuitable in providing reliable answers. They also highlight the merit of replication. A lack of common replication has repercussions for the quality of the scientific literature, and may be a reason why some controversial questions remain unanswered even when ignorance could be reduced. Agnotology is the study of such ignorance. A free and open-source software is provided for demonstration purposes.

Citation: Benestad, R. E., Hygen, H. O., van Dorland, R., Cook, J., and Nuccitelli, D.: Agnotology: learning from mistakes, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., 4, 451-505, doi:10.5194/esdd-4-451-2013, 2013.
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