Posted by: New Class Traitor | February 20, 2010

ClimateGate update: “Noble cause corruption” edition

Steven Mosher, the guy who brought the ClimateGate emails to general attention, looks back and ascribes what went wrong not to fraud but to “noble cause corruption“, the belief that cutting corners of process is permissible for the sake of achieving an outcome that serves the greater good. The commenters aren’t on board with the idea that the corruption is noble. “SPN news” in particular offers an irreverent explanation.

A PajamasMedia exclusive series on “ClimateGate 2.0” is now up to part 4. (See also Parts One, Two, and Three.)

MIT Professor Richard Lindzen published the following letter to the editor of The Boston Globe, which is short and to the point:

KERRY EMANUEL’S Feb. 15 op-ed “Climate changes are proven fact’’ is more advocacy than assessment. Vague terms such as “consistent with,’’ “probably,’’ and “potentially’’ hardly change this. Certainly climate change is real; it occurs all the time. To claim that the little we’ve seen is larger than any change we “have been able to discern’’ for a thousand years is disingenuous. Panels of the National Academy of Sciences and Congress have concluded that the methods used to claim this cannot be used for more than 400 years, if at all. Even the head of the deservedly maligned Climatic Research Unit acknowledges that the medieval period may well have been warmer than the present.

The claim that everything other than models represents “mere opinion and speculation’’ is also peculiar. Despite their faults, models show that projections of significant warming depend critically on clouds and water vapor, and the physics of these processes can be observationally tested (the normal scientific approach); at this point, the models seem to be failing.

Finally, given a generation of environmental propaganda, a presidential science adviser (John Holdren) who has promoted alarm since the 1970s, and a government that proposes funding levels for climate research about 20 times the levels in 1991, courage seems hardly the appropriate description – at least for scientists supporting such alarm.

Richard S. Lindzen
Cambridge
The writer is Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Via the comments, a few quotes that remain relevant:

Don’t you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don’t you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?

No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.

One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out “Don’t you believe in anything?”

“Yes”, I said. “I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.”

— Isaac Asimov

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” (Richard P. Feynman)

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Responses

  1. To paraphrase Feynman,

    “Reality trumps Dogma”


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