Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Corruption of Science

By William O'Keefe

The late Dr. Michael Crichton in a speech at the California Institute of Technology made the following observation:
“I want to …talk about … the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. …
“Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results … .
“There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. … .”  … Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E = mc². Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”
 In recent decades, the term consensus science has come to be associated with climate change/global warming.  The appeal to a consensus has been used to avoid honest and open debate about the extent of human influence on the climate system.  Climate change has become the poster child for the widely documented corruption in many fields of science resulting from competition for funding, tying funding to specific policy outcomes, and the increasing pressure to publish or perish.
(ht Bryan T Ripp)

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