Tuesday, December 01, 2009


For several decades now, the postmodernists have been warning us that science is inherently biased and ideological. Well, I suppose when they made that claim, they didn't expect the bias would be clearly exposed as coming from the Left and global warming claims. Looks like postmodernism has come around to biting its own tail, poisoning itself.

I think most scientists were and are and will remain unbiased in their work. However, I also think that postmodernists gave many scientists the green light to become biased and to promote ideological science. Most of the objections to evolutionary psychology and sociobiology fall into that category, as has been the promotion of anthropogenic climate change. This isn't to say that humans don't affect the climate or pollute -- we do, as does every other organism on earth, now or ever. But this scandal has shown that there are people out there willing to put ideology before reality (not a shock -- it just shouldn't happen in science). The big problem here is that this scandal is a huge black eye to science as a whole. Especially those sciences, like biology (or climatology), that are necessarily ambiguous due to the complexity of the things being studied. When a real problem comes about, people are going to be less likely to listen, and then we might have a real problem on our hands.


jrshipley said...

Only a relativist could link to FAUX and take themselves to be providing evidence. Of course, FAUX has only cherry-picked a handful of awkward phrases, ripped from context, in their attempt to poison the well when it comes to science-based public policy. Here's some, of many, passages from the emails the conspiracy-mongers have not quoted:

Mann to Cook re long-term trends and how to resolve differences: “There are some substantial scientific differences here, lets let them play out the way they are supposed to, objectively, and in the peer reviewed literature.” April 12, 2002.

Steig explaining goal for paper that explores the Holocene climate record and ice cores. “An example might be that the "thermal maximum" was actually warmer than present – a major issue of contention in the popular literature - and was more-or-less simultaneous in both polar regions. If this is correct, it will be a useful service to the paleoclimate community to demonstrate it. Alternatively, we may find after carefully looking at the data that we CANNOT reach such a conclusion. This would be an equally important result.” [Bold added.] 12/12/2000.

Mann to Cook in an exchange about the possibility of Cook’s research being used to attack Mann: "Lets figure this all out based on good, careful work and see what the data has to say in the end. We're working towards this ourselves, using revised methods and including borehole data, etc. and will keep everyone posted on this." May 2, 2001.

Here's the PEW center assessment that the emails don't show anything like the conspiracy theory being pushed by the right:

And the Union of Concerned Scientists reaching the same conclusion:

And, of course, there's the IPCC reports which are independent of CRU and involve thousands of scientists from around the world as authors or reviewers. Again, only a relativist would see parity between the opinions of a handful of skeptics/deniers and the findings of a multi-decadal collaboration between thousands of researchers.

But those of us who take the science at face value are the "postmodernists". Right?... The fact of the matter is that whenever the right encounters a scientific theory they don't like they scream bias. It's been just the same with evolutionary biology.

Warm Body said...

I'm going to side with jrshipley here. The emails are just back and forth between scientist. You need to quit quoting Fox News as your source material or your going to loss all credibility. Try applying spontaneous order to climate change. However, if you want to read something ironic, read about 'rare earth' and the making of hybrid cars. A good cost benefit analysis needs to be made there.

Troy Camplin said...

Fox News was the only place covering it, so it was the only place at the time I could link to.

You should pay attention to the actual argument I make. I don't argue that anthropogenic climate change isn't happening, only that scientists shouldn't put ideology before facts (and there is evidence many did just that -- the chair of the dept. did resign over this, after all).

My skepticism about what we can know about the impact of our activities, especially over the long term, is rooted precisely in systems science and theory. If you leave out the wrong thing or things,, or if you are off by the tiniest amount on the wrong thing, the results can be completely different in the model. Anyone who quotes the models as evidence is either ignorant of the nature of complex systems or disingenuous. Al Gore is merely ignorant, but any scientist who studies this and sites their models as evidence of anything is disingenuous. These models are useful for testing various scenarios, but they are not evidence, and the probability that they accurately represent anything like what will happen in incredibly low. If you understand the nature of complex, chaotic systems, you will understand that and not put any trust in these models as hard evidence of anything. The nature of complex systems prevents that from ever being the case.