How Science Gets Settled

I was a biology major for one semester.  I’m not going to claim to be an expert on science or the scientific method.

But then, either should Algore.

But I digress.  One of the key tenets of the scientific academy is the notion of “peer review” – the idea that scientific work is going to get a rigorous going-over by other scientists, to try to find weaknesses, errors or gaps in the thesis.

At any rate, more details are emerging about how climate “scientists” got their “universal consensus”:

Scientists sometimes like to portray what they do as divorced from the everyday jealousies, rivalries and tribalism of human relationships. What makes science special is that data and results that can be replicated are what matters and the scientific truth will out in the end.

But a close reading of the emails hacked from the University of East Anglia in November exposes the real process of everyday science in lurid detail.

Many of the emails reveal strenuous efforts by the mainstream climate scientists to do what outside observers would regard as censoring their critics. And the correspondence raises awkward questions about the effectiveness of peer review – the supposed gold standard of scientific merit – and the operation of the UN’s top climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The bottom line?  The “scientists” involved in the scandal engaged in back-channel back-biting no less venal and stupid than you’d find at the most vapid Humanities department, to get their pet theory (and all of its attendant funding) accepted.

The scientists involved disagree. They say they were engaged not in suppressing dissent but in upholding scientific standards by keeping bad science out of peer-reviewed journals. Either way, when passing judgment on papers that directly attack their own work, they were mired in conflicts of interest that would not be allowed in most professions.

Read the whole thing. And the next time some chattering hamster chants “the science is settled”, ask them if they have the faintest clue what that means.

24 thoughts on “How Science Gets Settled

  1. Yes, Mitch, I have a clue what the scientific consensus means, how it occurred, and all the attendant bickering that goes with the process. Academia, in all of its various departments can be petty and generally snotty on a regular basis. That doesn’t negate their efforts, or any other competitive area of endeavor; lots of fields have that kind of ‘culture’. In other venues it’s simply called ‘office politics’.

    It still makes more sense than the propoenents of intelligent design and creationism; so I guess I’ll be embracing what you consider ‘left wing science’ (although the scientists involved actually extend across a full spectrum of politics from right to left in their views).

  2. That doesn’t negate their efforts, or any other competitive area of endeavor;

    No, but it does mean that those efforts should be accorded a lot more scrutiny than they’ve been given.

    In other venues it’s simply called ‘office politics’.

    No, in other fields it’s called “Enron”. If the “scientists” involved are trying to pass off bad science as legitimate, then it’s fraud. If the politicians who are trying to leverage this bad science are doing it to try to seize more power for themselves (and they are), then it’s worse.

    It still makes more sense than the propoenents of intelligent design and creationism

    I’m trying to remember the Latin word for non-sequitur

    And no – AGW does NOT make more sense than intelligent design or creationism, inasmuch as the latter are matters of religious faith and not empirical disciplines. Climatology is.


  3. In other venues it’s simply called ‘office politics’.

    Of course, in the other venues the politics stay in the office. These dudes and their political patrons want to impose regulations that will fundamentally alter the way we all live, based on missing data points and computer modeling that they can’t reproduce.

    It still makes more sense than the proponents of intelligent design and creationism

    Actually, it makes the same sense. Creationism is based on faith and a disputed interpretation of source material; as each revelation in the British press demonstrates, AGW is also a faith based belief based on a disputed interpretation of source material. That is, when the actual source material is available for review. Your support is for scientism, not for science. Meanwhile, there are disinterested scientists who will continue their work despite the ministrations of the priesthood at East Anglia University and elsewhere.

  4. One big difference. Proponents of Creationism and Intelligent Design do not claim there’s no such thing as science. Quite the contrary.

  5. nuke plants are something that Obama is for, more power to him. I also heard that the guy who wrote the book “Game Change” said Obama will not run for re-election in 2012 because he will be so badly damaged by then and is almost certain that there will be a primary challenge to him, similar to what LBJ did in 1968, Afghanistan is going to be Obama’s Vietnam. Of course though Cap and Tax is dead, if they can’t get healthcare through they aren’t going to even bring it up for a vote. So don’t worry everyone, the left is in such a bad position they would rather snipe at each other instead of going after us.

  6. “That doesn’t negate their efforts, “

    Effort should be commended regardless of success of failure.

    But to withhold data in the attempt to hide failure is not part of the scientific method.


    The most important part of this MMGW hoax is that their conclusion is NOT reproducible. First prove that it is reproducible and provide ALL the data, then and only then can we start the peer review.


    DG, I am a bit disappointed that you are a follower of the Branch AlGorean Sect. Shame on you.

  7. The people who say “the science is settled” — like Al Gore — aren’t scientists. they have no idea what the term means, and what it’s limitations are.
    What they like is the fact that the science can be used to support their public policy initiatives, namely, an economy where the winners and losers are determined by people like themselves rather than the free market.
    They’ve lost that argument in countries all over the world, so now they fall back on the pseudo-religious orthodoxy of ‘settled science’, bought and paid for by the state.
    They are now in the process of losing this argument. No one wants to starve and freeze in the dark.

  8. Mitch, what’s with the moderation??

    Not sure. I’m getting bombarded with spam, so I’ve got some fairly strict modqueue settings. If you write a word that includes even one of the snippets that pops up a lot in spam, your comment gets modqueued (for example, typing “socialist” gets you modqueued; it includes “Cialis”, which is in a LOT of spam).

    Since your first comment got modqueued, and your second didn’t, I’d suspect you put something in the first comment that matched my gray-list.

    There ARE a few commenters who wind up in the modqueue all the time; not sure why. Nothing personal. I don’t moderate individual users (unless it’s their first comment). Once you get past that first comment (assuming I accept it, and I almost always do), all commenters either have full rights (subject to tripping the gray list) or I ban them outright. I keep nobody in limbo.

  9. I figured you always modqueued my comments to insure you would read ALL of my nuggets of wisdom. I’d be a tragedy to let one go unread. 😉

  10. No apologies from Rajendra Pachauri for the errors in the report that his IPCC released:

    In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said it would be hypocritical to apologise for the false claim that ­Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035, because he was not personally responsible for that part of the report. “You can’t expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report,” he said.

    What the !@#$% is this guy being paid for? I realize that we’re talking about the UN, but an absolute minimum of professional standards is required, isn’t it?
    Maybe he could tell us whether the science in the IPCC long-form report is “settled science” or whether the report’s summary, more extreme, containing more absolute statements, designed to be read by policy-makers — is “settled science”?

    How can a political document like the IPCC report be used as the basis for declaring that something is settled science anyhow?

  11. “How can a political document like the IPCC report be used as the basis for declaring that something is settled science anyhow?”

    Because THEY want it to be, and that serves their true purpose.

  12. “You can’t expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report,” he said.

    You can expect him to accept a Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC, though. The one the IPCC shared with Al Gore, doncha know.

    I hear that the next Nobel Peace Prize will be shared by Bernie Madoff and Milli Vanilli.

  13. I think this is how it has worked in this case, Scott.
    Climate scientists struggled for decades to make sense of a chaotic system that can be subject to only limited experimental verification, so for system-wide ‘experiments’ they used models and refined them as real-world measurements show the models were defective.
    Then solons at the UN saw an opportunity to expand there power and wealth at the expense of the people. They wanted AGW to become ‘settled science’. The most alarmist climate scientists are the scientists most likely to consider the science settled. They are given a seat at the table when the IPCC report is compiled and released.
    Ignorant journalists assume that the IPCC has some authority to declare a science is settled, rather than recognize whether or not the scientific process has determined that the science is settled, and pretty soon we are forced to use curly bulbs and turn down on thermostats on cold days and up on hot days.
    Ask a global warming fanatic how he or she knows that AGW is happening and they will point to the IPCC report.

  14. “they will point to the IPCC report.”

    And the IPCC report points to non-existent data.

    In God We Trust, all other must bring data.


    Don’t fall for the “but the dog ate my homework” excuse from the Branch AlGoreans (ie DG and Flush and AssClown and Peevish Boy…)

  15. Swiftee wrote:
    “Go back to your room, DG, and we’ll call you when ever we need a dim-witted true believer to testify.”

    Swiftee, I consider each of us here very much like guests on Mitch’s blog. I will be delighted to take direction from Mitch at any time, as his guest and his friend. I feel similarly about other blogs where I respect the prerogatives of the blog owner or whomever they designate as their co-admins / authors.

    I politely decline to take that kind of direction from you, Swiftee, here or anywhere else.

    KR, fond as I am of you, I would point out that neither I, nor Pen, have proffered you any excuses, canine or otherwise. I do not recall having read any excuses either, from AC, Flash, or…adding one you have left out, AB, among other occasionally dissenting voices.

  16. I think K-Rod intended to accuse you (and others) of falling for the “dog ate my homework” excuse” rather than committing it, Dog Gone. At least in this case.

  17. K-Rod, you aren’t being singled out. I get caught in Mitch’s modqueue as well. The comments show up eventually.

  18. do not recall having read any excuses either, from AC, Flash, or…adding one you have left out, AB, among other occasionally dissenting voices.

    That’s no surprise, considering that none of the above are smart enough to realize how wrong they are, or to realize that we’re laughing at them, not with them…or you.

  19. Mr. D, I’m not surprised that your comments get caught up in modqueue as well; i’d be a tragedy to let yours go unread as well. 8)

    Terry, your comprehension is, of course, much better than that of DG.

    Swiftee, I’m laughing with you laugh at them. I enjoy laughing at the Branch AlGoreans.


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