A conversation with Novim on July 24, 2012

Participants

Note: This set of notes gives an overview of the major points made by Michael Ditmore.

Mission and structure

Novim was formed in the spring of 2008 with the goal of convening researchers to objectively study topics that need more attention for the greater good of humanity. The organization has a focus on controversial topics where there’s a lack of objectivity in common discourse. The organization draws inspiration from two groups:

Novim does not recruit scientists who have taken a public stand on the issue under investigation to work on a project. However, it does seek input from people who have taken such a stand on both sides of the issue.

Novim aims to provide information that people can use for rational decision-making. The organization strives for transparency and has released the full details of the methodology, algorithms and data used for a global temperature study that it recently completed.

Projects

Novim has undertaken four projects to date:

Choice of topics

Novim chooses which topics to investigate based on:

Some topics that Novim may investigate in the future are:

Donors

Novim doesn’t take donations from the government or from corporations and is instead funded by individuals and foundations. Novim tries to get a wide range of donors across the political spectrum. Donors have included Bill Gates (as an individual), the Getty Foundation, Charles and David Koch, the Folger Foundation, the Arnold Foundation, and the Mitchell Foundation. Novim also receives money from smaller donors via its website.

How Novim is different

Novim views itself as different from other research organizations in that

Novim has an impressive collection of affiliates and collaborators including:

Concerns about academic research

There’s a phenomenon called ‘research cascading’ where a well known scientist comes up with a theory and then many researchers write papers with a view toward confirming it. It would be interesting to know how much of an effect this has on research. It seems to have a big effect on the research on climate models.

Nutritional science is in some ways parallel to climate science in that a lot of the people who are involved are not scientists and the research that’s being done does not consist of double blind and reproducible studies. There’s a lot of data mining. I’m a supporter of Peter Attia’s work on the subject.