Judith Curry : Credibility Seppuku ?

Dr Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, should read up a little on the history of anti-science, its methods, its proponents and its arguments, before throwing in her lot with the anti-science people of today : Steve McIntyre and his buddies.

To demonstrate that anti-science arguments are nothing new, she should try to work out what science the following excerpt is about, and when the events it describes took place :-

“XXXXX had succeeded in creating a debate about XXXXXX, but he wanted to go further, and take a stand against fraudulent science – at least if that science was being used against XXXXXX. In a XXXXX fundraising letter to the XXXXX Foundation – a group committed to supporting XXXXXXX…especially in the area of free enterprise – XXXXX insisted that XXXXX…demonstrated that the authors had been wilfully deceptive and that the climate effects…would be “minor to negligible”….scientists were playing into XXXXXX hands…were at best dupes, at worst accomplices. XXXXX concluded the worst, accusing the authors of deliberately ignoring the effects of the oceans and the fact that smoke would rain out….had in fact mentioned both mitigating circumstances in their paper; XXXXXX was misrepresenting their work to suggest that they had intentionally downplayed elements that would lessen the impact, and played up the worst-case scenario. Having planted the suggestion of scientific fraud to his potential donors, he then hired a spokesman to push the claim in public….the model is as a long series of conjectures….Of course the models were simplified, no one denied that. Every model is. But just as theories are tested by obversation, models are built on etablished theory and observation…XXXX…dismissed the…model as unscientific and casting doubt on the objectivity of its authors by linking them to liberal and environmental organizations…social context…Scientists are well aware of these issues…peer review…XXXX was interested in none of these subtleties. He insisted that XXXXX XXXXX was not science at all: it was left/liberal/environmental politics dressed up as computer code. “No one who is familiar with the malleability of computer projections can be surprised at the result.”…Finally XXX expanded his attack to encompass all science, and the scientific establishment itself…insisted that scientists had betrayed the public trust…”science bears little resemblance to its conventional portrait”…”non-rational factors as rhetoric, propaganda and personal prejudice”…”

This excerpt is taken from the book “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, and it concerns events that took place in the 1980s. The science ? The theory of “nuclear winter”.

Have we not moved from the 1980s yet ? Old, refuted arguments, particularly those based on personal-attack-style reasoning, should stay in their lead coffins with yew stakes and silver bullet points through their anatomy. Yet the Climate Change denier-sceptics love unearthing these radioactive zombies.

Dr Judith Curry should note that pretty much the same anti-science arguments are currently being used by Steve McIntyre’s satellite of supporters, and she should be advised to back away from the Climate Change denier-sceptics, whose arguments are not only wrong, they’re toxic for her credibility.

If she carries on believing the Climate Change denier-sceptics are validly and appropriate engaged in relevant research, with documented authority, and if she continues to promote the idea that they should be included in scientific debate, she might be risking her own professional reputation :-







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