Are Folks who call ‘Deniers’ Anti-Science Themselves Undermining Science?

Patrick MichaelsPatrick Michaels, Monday on Forbes.com (Will The Overselling Of Global Warming Lead To A New Scientific Dark Age?):

Science changed dramatically in the 1970s, when the reward structure in the profession began to revolve around the acquisition of massive amounts of taxpayer funding that was external to the normal budgets of the universities and federal laboratories. In climate science, this meant portraying the issue in dire terms, often in alliance with environmental advocacy organizations. Predictably, scientists (and their institutions) became addicted to the wealth, fame, and travel in the front of the airplane.

As I’ve written about before (Global warming, Eisenhower, and the danger of institutionalized science), this is exactly the scenario President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address:

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Michaels’ conclusion is scary:

Every year that elapses without a significant warming trend more and more erodes the credibility of not just climate science, but science in general:

“In the light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem—or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem—in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour.” [emphasis added]

paltridge_headshotThat last paragraph is a quote from Garth Paltridge, writing in the Australian literary journal,Quadrant, (Climate Change’s Inherent Uncertainties).

To me Paltridge’s conclusion is genuinely frightening:

In short, there is more than enough uncertainty about the forecasting of climate to allow normal human beings to be at least reasonably hopeful that global warming might not be nearly as bad as is currently touted. Climate scientists, and indeed scientists in general, are not so lucky. They have a lot to lose if time should prove them wrong.

This is something I’ve been worrying about for a while.

And it’s something those folks flinging the insult “anti-science” at Global Warming skeptics (or, as they would say, Deniers) should’ve thought about before they began their climate jihad on the Western world.

See also

Will The Overselling Of Global Warming Lead To A New Scientific Dark Age?

Global warming, Eisenhower, and the danger of institutionalized science

Climate Change’s Inherent Uncertainties

6 Pro Tips on Persuading Global Warming Deniers to Come to the Light

 

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