16 December, 2011

Scholars on Climategate

In “What’s Going on Behind the Curtain? Climategate 2.0 and Scientific Integrity”, H. Sterling Burnett, for the National Association of Scholars, writes:
Climategate, both 1 and 2, are textbook cases of gross lapses in professional ethics and scientific malfeasance.  To understand why, one must first understand what science is and how it is supposed to operate.  Science is the noble pursuit of knowledge through observation, testing and experimentation.  Scientists attempt to explain, describe and/or predict the implications of phenomena through the use of the scientific method.
The scientific method consists in gaining knowledge or explanatory power through a process.  Progress is made in science by proposing a hypothesis, and developing a theory to explain or understand certain phenomena, and then testing the hypothesis against reality.  A particular hypothesis is considered superior to others when, through testing, it is shown to have more explanatory power than competing theories or hypotheses and when other scientists running the same testing regime can reproduce the results of the original test.  Every theory or hypothesis must be disconfirmable in principle, which means that, if the theory predicts that “A” will occur under certain conditions, but instead, “B” and sometimes “C” result, then the theory has problems.  The more a hypothesis’s predictions prove inconsistent with or are diametrically opposed to the results that occur during testing, the less likely the hypothesis is to be correct.
Which brings us to Climategate.  Climategate parts one and two are a series of leaked e-mails from arguably the most prominent researchers promoting the idea that humans are causing catastrophic global warming.  The e-mails show the scientists involved to be violating their professional ethics with the result that climate science in particular and science as an institution more generally is brought into question.
The first group of e-mails released in 2009 showed scientists attempting to suppress or alter inconvenient data, destroying raw data so that others would be unable to analyze it, using tricks to change reported outcomes, conspiring to avoid legally required disclosure of taxpayer-funded data, and trying to suppress dissent by undermining the [pre-publication] peer-review process.  On the latter point the researchers involved threatened to boycott and get editors fired at journals publishing findings questioning the urgency of the climate crisis.
Climategate 2 is a second release of e-mails, in November 2011, from the same cabal of scientists exposed in Climategate 1.  There is little new to the revelations—just more hiding data, trying to figure out how to downplay dissent or [to] have papers that would seem to undermine one part or another of anthropogenic global warming theory ignored or discredited. 
To be clear, these e-mails do not disprove that humans are causing potentially catastrophic global warming.  Whether or not humans are or are not, in fact, causing or contributing to dangerous climate change, the only thing clear that emerges from the Climategate e-mails is that the scientists claiming that “the science is settled” and that there is “consensus” among scientists that humankind are acting as planet killers, can’t be trusted, nor can their research be pointed to as solid proof of anthropogenic global warming.  [...]
The term skeptic has historically been a badge of honor proudly worn by scientists as indicating their commitment to the idea that in the pursuit of truth, nothing is beyond question, every bit of knowledge is open to improvement and/or refutation as new evidence or better theories emerge.  However, in the topsy-turvy field of climate science, “skeptic” is a term of opprobrium and to be labeled a skeptic is akin to being a heretic in the Middle Ages—you may not be literally burned at the stake, but your reputation will be put to flames.
The Climategate scientists continue to claim that the actions disclosed are not [as] bad as they seem and that nothing contained in the e-mails is really important.  But this is like the Wizard of Oz saying “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” when in fact the real action is going on behind the curtain. 
Thanks to bingbing

UPDATE:  Kirk Myers makes a similar point in “The global warming meltdown that never was—and never will be”:
The warmists’ scientific conclusions are based purely on climate modeling, not experimentation, observation or hard empirical data.  Worse, they’ve turned the scientific method on its head.  Instead of constructing a theory and then rigorously testing and re-testing to see if it stands up to scientific examination, they start with a pre-ordained conclusion (i.e., fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions cause the earth to warm) and then manipulate and tune their computer models to churn out data that support it.  In short, human-induced global warming is the product of laboratory computer simulations and over-active imaginations; it doesn’t exist in the real world.
Piers Corbyn agrees:
Ottawa has pulled out of the 1997 anti-global warming Kyoto Protocol, saying the treaty is “not working.”  Piers Corbyn, the founder of the Weather Action Foundation, says Canada is doing the right thing.
­According to Corbyn, the solar activity—not carbon dioxide—is behind climate change.
“I don’t believe in man-made climate change because there is no evidence for it.  In fact, carbon dioxide is controlled by world temperatures rather than the other way around,” he told RT.  “Climate change is going on, and the key aspects of the big, very extreme events that happened in the last 18 months were predicted by us, the Weather Action, using solar activity.  “Carbon dioxide has zero effect, I repeat: zero effect, no effect whatsoever.”

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