California scientist says he ‘left out the full truth’ to get climate change wildfire study published

Patrick Brown said he "narrowly focused" his study because of the pressure scientists face to be published in prestigious articles

A California scientist admitted that he "left out the full truth" about climate change, blaming it primarily on human causes, to get his study published in a prestigious science journal. 

Patrick T. Brown, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and doctor of earth and climate sciences, admitted in an online article in The Free Press, a blog post and a series of social media posts that he distorted the findings of his studies to appeal to the editors at Nature and Science magazines, which are prestigious online science journals. 

"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 wrote in The Free Press.


firefighters near flames

Patrick T. Brown's study published in Nature magazine on Aug. 30 stated that climate change affected extreme wildfire behavior like the devastating fires in California and Maui. (AP Photo/Eric Thayer)

Brown's study published in Nature on Aug. 30 stated that climate change affected extreme wildfire behavior like the devastating fires in California and Maui. The established scientist now admits that he "focused narrowly" only on the human influence of wildfires, instead of focusing broadly on the complexities of other "obviously relevant factors."

He blamed his angle on the pressure scientists face to get their studies published in prestigious articles and the need to create catchy abstracts that can be turned into headlines.

Brown said in The Free Press he is not "disowning" his paper by criticizing how he chose to approach the piece, but admitting it is less "useful than it could have been."

"You might be wondering at this point if I’m disowning my own paper. I’m not," Brown wrote. "On the contrary, I think it advances our understanding of climate change’s role in day-to-day wildfire behavior. It’s just that the process of customizing the research for an eminent journal caused it to be less useful than it could have been." 

Brown wrote that the study didn’t look at poor forest management and other factors that are just as important to fire behavior because he "knew that it would detract from the clean narrative centered on the negative impact of climate change and thus decrease the odds that the paper would pass muster with Nature’s editors and reviewers." 

He added such bias in climate science "misinforms the public" and "makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve."

"Identifying and focusing on problems rather than studying the effectiveness of solutions makes for more compelling abstracts that can be turned into headlines, but it is a major reason why high-profile research is not as useful to society as it could be," Brown wrote in an X (formerly Twitter) thread on Sept. 5.

Air tanker flying over burning forest

Brown admitted his study didn’t look at poor forest management and other factors important to fire behavior because he knew that would "decrease the odds that the paper would pass muster with Nature’s editors and reviewers."  (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

California Assembly leader James Gallagher, a Republican, blasted liberals by saying that they "cherry-pick data" to "fit their agenda."

"Patrick Brown is saying the quiet part out loud - liberals are cherry-picking data to fit an agenda and push radical policies that drive up the cost of living," Gallagher told Fox News Digital. "Climate change is Democrats’ excuse to avoid blame for turning our forests into tinderboxes."


"If they don’t get serious about forest management, we’re going to see even more mega-fires destroying the landscape," Gallagher continued.

A California wildfire

California Republicans told Fox News Digital that their state is burning while liberals "cherry-pick data" to "fit their agenda" on climate change. (National Park Service via AP)

Republican Assembly member Joe Patterson echoed Gallagher's sentiments, telling Fox News Digital that Gov. Gavin Newsom pressures scientists to ignore science and other significant factors that cause wildfires.

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