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Climate science inquiries are only exacerbating the damage to science’s reputation

Bishop Hill is doing a great job of following
the various inquiries into the climate emails.

The unthoroughness, biased membership and gullibility of the
Oxburgh and Russell inquiries has the effect on a lukewarmer like
me of driving me further into the sceptical camp. If the case for
man made global warming needs this much flagrant whitewashing, then
maybe, I begin to think, the exaggerations and mistakes are not
just the result of sloppiness, but are part of a deliberate attempt
to camouflage the truth to keep the gravy train on the track. If
the science was any good then it could stand proper scrutiny.

As Christpher Booker writes:

Nothing will do more to reinforce
suspicion of the CRU’s conduct than the failure, first by those
MPs, and now by the team led by Lord Oxburgh, to address properly
the way in which it appears to have abused the principles of true
science – a scandal which should be of concern not just to us here
in Britain, who paid for it, but across the world.

The incomparable Clive Crook made a similar point when the
emails first surfaced back in Novermber:

I’m also surprised by the IPCC’s
response. Amid the self-justification, I had hoped for a word of
apology, or even of censure. (
George Monbiot called for
Phil Jones to resign
, for crying out loud.) At any rate I
had expected no more than ordinary evasion. The

declaration from Rajendra Pachauri that the emails
confirm all is as it should be is stunning. Science at its best.
Science as it should be. Good lord. This is pure George Orwell. And
these guys call the other side “deniers”.

…Remember that this is not an academic
exercise. We contemplate outlays of trillions of dollars to fix
this supposed problem. Can I read these emails and feel that the
scientists involved deserve to be trusted? No, I cannot. These
people are willing to subvert the very methods-notably, peer
review-that underwrite the integrity of their discipline. Is this
really business as usual in science these days? If it is, we should
demand higher standards-at least whenever “the science” calls for a
wholesale transformation of the world economy. And maybe some
independent oversight to go along with the higher

The scientist Terence Kealey said to me recently

Science was never a public good, nor was
it ever anything but a club

I have a horrid suspicion that defending the club is taking
precedence over seeking the truth. It takes a lot for a science
groupie like me to lose this much faith in the science
establishment. Think how much more damage is being done among those
who are not science groupies.


By Matt Ridley | Tagged:  rational-optimist