Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

December 4, 2009

Climategate, a new record in scientific fraud

Filed under: Hard Science,Politics — Tags: , — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:45 am

Note: My weekend op-ed. This has got to be a record for the greatest scientific fraud ever, by any criteria you care to name: number of people involved in falsifying data, the amount of money involved, the consequences of acting on the doctored data, the number of people who fell for it, etc.

“If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.”
– Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in physics, on scientific integrity

The greatest scandal in the history of science is breaking, and I’m standing aghast while the world spins around me merrily unconcerned.

A hacker, or internal whistle-blower at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit in England, published on-line over 1,000 emails and about 3,500 files from the CRU. These show the world’s most prominent climate scientists promoting the Global Warming hypothesis have engaged in deliberate manipulation of the evidence. They’ve conspired to suppress data that doesn’t support their conclusions, exclude contrary opinions from scientific journals, destroy records before they could be revealed, slander and get global warming dissenters dismissed from their jobs.

And, they destroyed the raw research data. That is never done in respectable science. Not. Ever.

Some involved have offered explanations – which hold water like a sieve.

So what? Why should you care if you’re not a scientist?

Well, consider Joyce Gilchrist, a former forensic chemist for 21 years at the Oklahoma City police department, who provided evidence in over 3,000 criminal cases. Gilchrist falsified evidence – lots of it. Her testimony got 23 people sentenced to death. Eleven of them were executed. At least one of the dead is all-but-proven innocent. Another was released after 10 years on death row. You see, she just knew those people were guilty, and that justified “improving” uncertain evidence.

Now imagine your police department has Joyce Gilchrist running the crime lab.

From 1999 to 2003 Jayson Blair wrote hundreds of stories for the New York times which were error-ridden, blatantly plagiarized, or just plain made up.

From 1995 to 1998, Stephen Glass, writer for the prestigious magazine The New Republic, fabricated quotations, sources, and entire events out of the whole cloth for articles.

Janet Cooke, reporter for the Washington Post, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for a story later found to be a total fabrication.

Now imagine every third journalist is Jayson Blair. The first and second are Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke.

This is worse. This affects all of us.

But why would any scientist risk their reputation and credibility by committing fraud?

One reason, lying because they sincerely believe the world is in danger. The data stubbornly doesn’t provide convincing proof. We laymen are too dumb to appreciate the uncertainty in any scientific conclusion and have to be scared into supporting necessary action, etc.

Two, sheer self-interest: jobs, money, and power. A looming disaster requires further study. Which requires lots of grant money. The government needs the power to force people to do something about it. Which means jobs for enforcers, etc.

According to the Global Warming establishment:
1)The average temperature of the earth is increasing rapidly.
2)The increase is not caused by natural climate cycles but by human industrial activity.
3)The increase will result in world-wide catastrophe and the deaths of millions or billions of people.
4)Preventing this demands a huge expansion of regulation and taxation worldwide. An expansion that would admittedly raise the cost of everything from food to consumer goods, cripple the economy of industrialized nations, and kill any chance for Third World nations to rise out of backwardness and poverty.
5)There is no scientifically respectable disagreement with any of the above.

If this is true, then we obviously have to bite the bullet and accept the price. But what if it’s not?

Claim five is a flat-out lie. There is plenty of dispute by reputable scientists in the relevant fields about claims one through four. They haven’t gotten as much press because, 1) disaster is sexy for the media, and 2) Global Warming skeptics have to be very, very careful about what they say because dissent is dangerous to careers.

But what if Global Warming is real? Then these dishonest “scientists” have poisoned any rational discussion of the problem and damaged public trust in the credibility of all science.

Note: The emails and documents referred to can be searched here .

Without an index, you’ll have to dig.

Powered by WordPress