Sunday, May 01, 2005

Science is objective, but scientists aren't necessarily so

Consider this post from Andrew Stuttaford:

    One of the curiosities of the debate over man-made global warming is the way in which true believers in this hypothesis seem so unwilling to enter into any debate with those that challenge them. I can understand established scientists not wanting to give equal time to cranks but shutting out experts of the calibre decribed in this account seems to be indicative of something else.

    Is the global warming crowd quite so sure of the science as it likes to make out? Read on, and judge for yourself...

    "A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds. A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which raised doubts over the issue.The controversy follows the publication by Science in December of a paper which claimed to have demonstrated complete agreement among climate experts, not only that global warming is a genuine phenomenon, but also that mankind is to blame.The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser. However, her unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the pro-global warming line.They included Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University, who decided to conduct his own analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents - and concluded that only one third backed the consensus view, while only one per cent did so explicitly. Dr Peiser submitted his findings to Science in January, and was asked to edit his paper for publication - but has now been told that his results have been rejected on the grounds that the points he make had been "widely dispersed on the internet".

    What's going on?


I occasionally hear secularists glorifying the objective and factual nature of "science," which "religion" for its lack thereof. But we all have our pet theories and biases, so merely claiming objectivity is, of course, insufficient as a demonstration of it.

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