Monday, November 30, 2009

Science pushes their own agenda

Remember when the world was supposed to end because of global warming? Al Gore said so and we should probably believe him. Heck, they even made a terrible movie about how global warming will lead to... New York being hit by a mega hurricane.

Now it's coming out that scientists were actually deleting emails and suppressing data to show that global tempratures actually dropped. GASP! The fallout from this? No doubt some right-winger radio host will tell us now to go release a bunch of hairspray into the atmosphere.

Dubbed “climate-gate” by global warming sceptics, the most outrageous East Anglia email excerpts appear to suggest respected scientists misleadingly manipulated data and suppressed legitimate argument in peer-reviewed journals.

These claims are forcefully denied, but the correspondents do little to enhance confidence in either the integrity or the professionalism of the university’s climatologists. What is more, there are no denials around the researchers’ repeated efforts to avoid meaningful compliance with several requests under the UK Freedom of Information Act to gain access to their working methods. Indeed, researchers were asked to delete and destroy emails. Secrecy, not privacy, is at the rotten heart of this bad behavior by ostensibly good scientists.

Why should research funding institutions and taxpayers fund scientists who deliberately delay, obfuscate and deny open access to their research? Why should scientific journals publish peer-reviewed research where the submitting scientists have not made every reasonable effort to make their work – from raw data to sophisticated computer simulations – as transparent and accessible as possible? Why should responsible policymakers in America, Europe, Asia and Latin America make decisions affecting people’s health, wealth and future based on opaque and inaccessible science?

They should not. The issue here is not about good or bad science, it is about insisting that scientists and their work be open and transparent enough so that research can be effectively reviewed by broader communities of interest. Open science minimises the likelihood and consequences of bad science.

This hurts the trust that public has with science. Instead of reporting the truth as science is intended to do, the scientists used their position to push a certain view. Sounds familiar? Yeah it's called religion.

The problem with doing this on global warming is that this could set back the scientific community's reputation in the matter for years. Joe Bob on his couch and Sweeney Crook in the Senate aren't going to listen to your pleads for change now, regardless if actually climate change is causing a river to form in their living room. You guys just had to go and screw things up. Couldn't you have just shown everybody the large chunks of ice that are melting off glaciers that have been around for thousands of years? Just a thought.

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