Friday, February 5, 2010

Scientists, you are fallible. Get off the pedestal and join the common herd

Climatologists above all need to rediscover the virtue of self-criticism - or others will continue to question their evidence
So scientists are human after all. They are no different from bankers, politicians, lawyers, estate agents and perhaps even journalists. They cheat. They make mistakes. They suppress truth and suggest falsity, especially when a cheque or a plane ticket is on offer. As for self-criticism, that is for you, not me.

I am just ready to believe that the antics of the climate change scientists, revealed in this week's Guardian and elsewhere, have no impact on the facts of global warming. But then I must rely on those same scientists to say so. The Yamal-12 larches may be dodgy, the hockey stick limp and the Amazon stats subject to re-evaluation. The date of 2035 for a Himalayan apocalypse may have been a misprint for 2350 and 40,000 comments didn't spot it. But so what, they all say? The world is coming to an end because we are scientists and, like Nostradamus, we know.
What any layman must find alarming is the paranoia and exclusivity of the climate change community. The preparation of the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was apparently like that of a party manifesto. Data was suppressed and criticism ignored. The IPCC's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, dismissed sceptics as adherents of "voodoo science". Dark hints were made of commercial interest and Holocaust denial.
Now barely a week passes without another of the "thousands and thousands of papers" Pachauri calls in evidence having its peer-review credentials questioned. Their authors may plead that the evidence remains strong and theirs is no more than what lawyers call "noble cause corruption". Anyone reading the University of East Anglia emails might conclude they would say that, wouldn't they. Yet Pachauri this week issued a Blairite refusal of all regrets for the chaos into which his sloppiness has plunged his organisation.
Climatology is not the only scientific discipline whose dirty linen is flapping in the wind. The wildly exaggerated flu scares promoted over the past decade by virologists and their friends in government have so undermined trust in epidemiology that people are refusing flu vaccination. In the case of the MMR scare, it took London's Royal Free Hospital a shocking 10 years to investigate the scientists responsible, and the General Medical Council to discipline them. Read more.

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