When discussing scientific things with a friend of mine, a scientist himself, the notion of Science as the dispassionate, neutral observer willing to fearlessly proceed wherever the evidence leads – even if it leads in a personally distasteful direction – colors his conversation. In truth, that’s probably how we all view Science. More to the point, it’s how we should view Science because it’s how Science should be. We should be able to trust its conclusions.
But what happens if the scientific community, for whatever reason, abandons its neutrality concerning the conclusion the evidence is pointing to and decides to actively promote a conclusion unsupported by the facts? It takes no great leap to imagine that, in such a scenario, some evidence would be suppressed and other evidence would be gussied up. Not with a view to finding the Truth. With a view to manipulating the conclusion.
For years, common citizens and scientists alike have wondered: from whence comes all this support for Anthropogenic (man made) Global Warming (AGW)? Not only did the same scientific community predict just a few years before all the AGW hysteria that we were headed for a new Ice Age, but research often points away from AGW as a scientific conclusion.
If Science is, indeed, the dispassionate neutral observer, the best conclusion would seem to be to keep on studying and make no definitive statements. A scientific version of “We can neither confirm or deny the existence of either AGW or an imminent Ice Age.” New evidence has emerged, however, which seems to show the scientific community did just the opposite.
The Telegraph’s James Delingpole writes:
If you own any shares in alternative energy companies I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka Hadley CRU) and released 61 megabites of confidential files onto the internet. (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)
When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:
Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.
The trap my scientist friend falls into with his belief in Science as an arbiter of knowledge and Truth is not that Science sometimes comes to conclusions that are later shown to be wrong. The very quest that Science embarks on recognizes there are things we now believe that are wrong. That’s why Science exists, to ferret out the Truth.
My friend errs in trusting scientists. Human nature, as it exists in scientific leaders, political leaders, religious leaders and others engaged in the quest to improve the life and condition of their followers, is not exempt from the call and response of greed, deception, hypocrisy and hubris because their cause is noble.
As with Politics and politicians; as with Theology and theologians; so with Science and scientists. When looking for Truth, our greatest concern should not be the analysis of the conclusions being reported. It should be an analysis of the character of those doing the reporting.
Cross posted from Blue Collar Muse.