It’s the coverup, not the crime


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A new Rasmussen poll finds that 69% of the public now believe that climate scientists falsified data to support their own theories about global warming. Moreover, these numbers are up ten points since December 2009, which happens to be just after the climategate emails were released.

These terrible numbers are further evidence that the willingness of the scientific community to whitewash their investigations of the climategate scientists, what I consider to be the equivalent of a community-wide cover-up, has done serious harm to science and its reputation.

The power of science to improve our lives since Galileo has depended greatly on trust. People knew that scientists put the truth above all else, and would aggressively condemn and ostracize any scientists who did otherwise.

That trust is now gone. These poll numbers indicate that the public no longer believes anything the scientific community says about global warming. Instead, the numbers tell us that the public thinks climate scientists routinely lie and cheat in order to prop up their favorite theories.

The consequences for science here are profound. First of all, much of today’s science research is funded by the government, funding that must be accompanied by strong public support. It seems to me that the public’s lack of trust in the climate science community is going to soon translate into smaller funding, especially considering the federal government’s serious budget problems.

In the longer run, however, this willingness of scientists to cheat will have much greater consequences to science and society itself. It suggests a deepening corruption in the entire scientific process. It suggests that political pressure has trumped knowledge as the basis for scientific research. And it suggests that our society itself has become less enamored to the ideas of truth and honesty.

In such a poisonous atmosphere it will become increasingly difficult for honest people to succeed. Instead, it will be those who are good at manipulating power, irrelevant of the truth, who will rule.

Such as culture cannot long prosper.

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4 comments

  • Tom Billings

    A screwdriver is a wonderful tool. You can pry with it, chisel with it, hammer with it, punch with it and scrape with it. The problem is that after you’ve used it for all those things long enough, it does a really poor job at simply turning screws, much less allowing you to drive them in against resistance.

    The scientific method is also a tool. It is a tool for finding closer and closer approximations to the way parts of our universe work.

    It can also be used to justify decisions about coercing others, from warfare to domestic regulation, and decisions about how to follow regulations. It can justify demands for money inside a hierarchy like government, and demands that funding for projects be refused by the government. It can justify political campaigns for taxation, and subsidy.

    The problem is, after you’ve done all those things with it, it rapidly becomes a poorer and poorer tool to find those approximations for how parts of our universe work.

    That’s the situation we have today. Oligopsony amounting to monopsony over climate science funding has made this path easier. Until we split the funding of science among enough different groups that none of them can exclude funding for a model that says what many want is not true, then we will have this problem again and again.

    BTW, the same thing happened in engineering even sooner. Look at the 1970s-present funding of fusion research that became obsessed with tokomaks, given peer-review of funding through the US government, because they were so good at plasma physics research. Look at the halt in funding to the Liquid Flouride Salt-cooled reactors in the 1970s. Atomic energy and atomic physics were the first place this happened, and few noticed.

  • jwing

    Well said Mr. Billings…
    There is a fitting analogy regarding the current global warming scientific group think that is strikingly similar to that experienced by free-thinking inventors/scientists during the Age of Enlightenment. Isn’t it ironic that scientists today blindly refuse to see their hypocricy in their adhering to the belief in man-made global warming and not to the emirical data of the scientific method? Their logic has been thrown away with the warm bath water and baby. History shows that church officials and priests demanded strict theological adherence by thinkers like Gallileo or be damned. Oh, how ironic is it. We need to enter a 21st century age of enlightenment, and we can call it the age of re-enlightenment to common sense.

  • interesting I had never heard of a molten salt reactor, thanks^^ . i see these problems as more of a downturn on the way to an even better future rather than the end of all scientific progress and a sign we are on our way back to the dark ages . maybe that is because I am younger, naive, and overly optomistic . i think we will learn our lessons eventually and become a better species with superior scientists . i think jwing takes it too far to equate a large powerful group of scientists usuing thier influence to aggressively condemn and ostracize any other scientists who don’t agree with them to the spanish inquisition . to me it seems that politics has always been a part of science, we all know that just because a majority believes something is true does not make it so . sure we might like to believe that knowledge itself is all that matters and trust every scientist to rededicate themselves daily to truth above all else, but in reality they are also humans and some of them will do human things like lying, cheating, and stealing to get what they want if they can get away with it . cheer up! we can learn from this and do better . the goal should be improving education and critical thinking , don’t worry about science losing the blind trust of the people , save faith for the religions

  • Well, it’s all well and good to talk about the intellectual failures, and even just basic logic failures, represented by the AGW fiasco, but what good does it do?

    Massive taxpayer funding and foundation funding continue to flow to AGW programs, in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Indeed, American funding increased after Climategate. It’s as if the funders decided the way to refute the Climategate evidence was to double down on their bets. It’s no damn good to point out that it’s junk science. Developed economies held in death-grips by ecoterrorist minority green parties world-wide continue to pour money into it and the ridiculous schemes it produced, like carbon-trading. Sheep-like electorates, shortly to lose many benefits once lavished on them by welfare states, continue to remain docile and even encouraging of the insanity.

    So I ask the question I’ve asked of Mark Marano several times, without answer: please show me the nations who have come to their senses and stopped funding AGW science.

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