This is Not Science

What is contained in the 3,000 emails and documents that were released last week after the Climate Research Unit’s emails were hacked? The Wall Street Journal gives a brief overview, and you can find even more details here. Here’s one part of the overview from the WSJ:

Yet even a partial review of the emails is highly illuminating. In them, scientists appear to urge each other to present a “unified” view on the theory of man-made climate change while discussing the importance of the “common cause”; to advise each other on how to smooth over data so as not to compromise the favored hypothesis; to discuss ways to keep opposing views out of leading journals; and to give tips on how to “hide the decline” of temperature in certain inconvenient data.

That is not science. Science is about allowing and giving air to disagreement over the data so that everybody can come to a better understanding. A unified view that comes as a result of smoothing over data is not authentic.

It is especially important for science to give air to different points of view—rather than be afraid of them—, because science by definition proceeds by trial and error. This is what most scientists do. And this is what the scientific method is. Observe, hypothesize, predict, test, repeat.

Therefore, covering over disagreement is contrary to the entire enterprise of science.

It also shows that the problem is not science, but what we do with it. It shows us that science itself is and must be governed by higher principles. For example, honesty.

  • Christopher Misiano

    This whole situation is so frustrating I’m speechless. If they would own up to the fraud going on here, then I think they would garner back at least some respect, but I don’t think that is happening anytime soon. What an absolute sham. By the way, posts like this are why I love this blog so much- you have many good things to say on such a wide variety of topics- thanks Matt!