Climategate 2.0 and Scientific Integrity

December 15, 2011

Climategate, both 1 and 2, are textbook cases of gross lapses in professional ethics and scientific malfeasance.  To understand why, one must first understand what science is and how it is supposed to operate, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • Science is the noble pursuit of knowledge through observation, testing and experimentation.
  • Scientists attempt to explain, describe and/or predict the implications of phenomena through the use of the scientific method, which consists of gaining knowledge or explanatory power through a process.
  • Progress is made in science by proposing a hypothesis and developing a theory to explain or understand certain phenomena, and then testing the hypothesis against reality.
  • A particular hypothesis is considered superior to others when, through testing, it is shown to have more explanatory power than competing theories or hypotheses.
  • Every theory or hypothesis must be disconfirmable in principle, which means that, if the theory predicts that "A" will occur under certain conditions, but instead, "B" and sometimes "C" result, then the theory has problems.
  • The more a hypothesis' predictions prove inconsistent with or are diametrically opposed to the results that occur during testing, the less likely the hypothesis is to be correct.

Which brings us to Climategate.

  • Climategate parts one and two are a series of leaked e-mails from arguably the most prominent researchers promoting the idea that humans are causing catastrophic global warming.
  • The first group of e-mails released in 2009 showed scientists, among other things, attempting to suppress or alter inconvenient data, destroying raw data so that others would be unable to analyze it and trying to suppress dissent by undermining the peer review process.
  • Climategate 2 is a second release of e-mails with little new information, but more hiding of data.

To be clear, these e-mails do not disprove that humans are causing potentially catastrophic global warming, but what clearly emerges is that the scientists claiming that "the science is settled" and that there is "consensus" among scientists, can't be trusted, nor can their research be pointed to as solid proof of anthropogenic global warming, says Burnett.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "What's Going on Behind the Curtain? Climategate 2.0 and Scientific Integrity," National Association of Scholars, December 14, 2011.

For text:

http://www.nas.org/polArticles.cfm?Doc_Id=2319

 

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