Muck and Mystery
   Loitering With Intent
blog - at - crumbtrail.org
November 22, 2009
Climategate

It’s News On Academia, Not Climate

If you knew how academia worked, this news would not surprise you nor change your opinions on global warming. . .

It is a shame that academia works this way, and an academia where this stuff didn’t happen would probably be more accurate. But even our flawed academic consensus is usually more accurate than its contrarians, and it is hard to find reliable cheap indicators saying when contrarians are more likely to be right.

Well, that's not news either. But there is something that seems extra vile about the way that the climate issue has been so politicized. It's not just academic noogy wars, old academic bulls standing their increasingly antiquated ground, or even the inertia of academic bureaucrats who long ago settled down and digested their own brains. Political madness seems like it has degraded the already low standards of academia.

No good can come of this.

Update:Peer Review and Scientific Consensus

“Scientific consensus” often emerges because the members of this exclusive club, and those who support them, have too much invested in the reigning ideas to let go. In this context, it behooves bright young scientists not to rock the boat by challenging anything fundamental or dear to the hearts of those who constitute review committees of funders or journals. The terms “peer review” and “scientific consensus” often serve to suggest a process of disinterested neutrality and saintly pursuit of truth. Like every other human endeavour, however, science is conducted by people with the full range of human emotions and motives.

Good rules of thumb for the non-scientist might be the following: government-funded research that is used to justify that government’s policy should be suspect, whether or not it’s peer-reviewed; and the research of scientists who appear at press conferences in the company of politicians or activists whose agendas they are there to support should be suspect, whether or not the work upholds the consensus opinion.


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