Just yesterday we learned from President Barack Obama that he plans to “restore the scientific process to its rightful place”. I questioned as to whose science and what process he planned to use. Dreadful question isn’t it? But one that unfortunately has become a part of our biased and politically driven society. We only have to look just beyond the end of our noses to realize that what has prompted this bias and the politics of our everyday lives is money.
I’m no scientist and God only knows I screwed around way too much in high school chemistry, slept through college physics and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t pass chemical principles (shivers running up and down my spine). I’m told that the world of science is a compilation of people testing to prove or disprove hypotheses. The ultimate is to get your study published, hopefully in some noted and respectable scientific publication. It is also common practice to allow for opposing viewpoints, counterpoints, etc……..all based in scientific research. It all sounds so honorable and ethical.
I suppose that what propelled a scientist to prove and disprove was because he or she was a scientist and maybe that some day would come when they and their work would be recognized. After all, they are a scientist. The scientific world for the most part required a lot of hard work and honesty. As important as science is to everything in our lives, where would we be if scientific study lost that honesty, the integrity?
Toss in money to the mix, lot’s of it, the love of which is the root of all evil, the Bible tells us. When funding for scientific research became big business, were we to naively believe that results of scientific studies retained honesty and didn’t reveal sought after results or better yet, show the need for more funding?
Who knows how deeply this form of corruption goes. Maybe it doesn’t even exist and I’ve just become paranoid or worse than that I’ve become one of those evil conspiracy theorists. Then again, maybe it’s so bad that there is no rational (sane) reason to ever believe a word that comes from the scientific community again, especially when funded through politically biased, agenda driven, governmental and private agencies.
Richard S. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last October(2008) in EcoWorld, a paper, Climate Science: Is It Currently Designed To Answer Questions?”, written by Richard Lindzen was published. The paper is not necessarily about proving or disproving the cause of climate change but rather the methods now being used to reach such conclusions.
It’s a long read but one that should serve as a real wake-up call to everyone. Why everyone? As I eluded to before, everything in our lives is affected by science, the studies, the results, all of it. If we can’t trust it, where does that leave us?
In Lindzen’s introduction, he gives us a peek into what the scientific world is supposed to look like and an inkling of the corruption that’s sure to change it.
Although the focus of this paper is on climate science, some of the problems pertain to science more generally. Science has traditionally been held to involve the creative opposition of theory and observation wherein each tests the other in such a manner as to converge on a better understanding of the natural world. Success was rewarded by recognition, though the degree of recognition was weighted according to both the practical consequences of the success and the philosophical and aesthetic power of the success. As science undertook more ambitious problems, and the cost and scale of operations increased, the need for funds undoubtedly shifted emphasis to practical relevance though numerous examples from the past assured a strong base level of confidence in the utility of science. Moreover, the many success stories established ‘science’ as a source of authority and integrity. Thus, almost all modern movements claimed scientific foundations for their aims. Early on, this fostered a profound misuse of science, since science is primarily a successful mode of inquiry rather than a source of authority.
Whether you or I support or deny that climate change is caused by man, isn’t what compels me to share this information. It’s the methods, the honesty and as the author describes it, the integrity that will seriously affect us all.
I have often asked throughout the debate on global warming, if there are these hundreds and hundreds of scientists who are skeptical of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” and the prospects of anthropogenic climate change, why aren’t they speaking out? Why don’t we read about this is the papers, hear it on the radio or watch it on television?
Lindzen explains to us why. After reading his paper, we learn that the scientific process of communicating has become corrupt, driven by money and greed I presume. Normal avenues of publication are bought and paid for through corrupt government funding and/or private monies supporting agendas. Scientists who opt to challenge, criticize or maybe even to voice skepticism on issues like global warming, get discredited and ridiculed.
When the “proof” of a scientific conclusion is the grounds for the personal profit of billions and maybe trillions of dollars before it’s all said and done, too much is at stake to allow for any dissenting voices. This is corruption at its worst.
This paper has attempted to show how changes in the structure of scientific activity over the past half century have led to extreme vulnerability to political manipulation. In the case of climate change, these vulnerabilities have been exploited to a remarkable extent. The dangers that the above situation poses for both science and society are too numerous to be discussed in any sort of adequate way in this paper. It should be stressed that the climate change issue, itself, constitutes a major example of the dangers intrinsic to the structural changes in science.
The author writes of different ways that scientific research needs to be funded to avoid this vulnerability. I have always wondered to myself if we could somehow justly reward research after the fact. This might work for research and development but I’m not sure about the rest.
I personally have heard from scientists who express frustration that they aren’t able to obtain research dollars because it is so political and that there’s a certain degree of “bleeding the system” if you will, never quite finding the answer or a cure knowing that in doing so, the money dries up.
Alas, what ever happened to honesty and integrity?