Friday, March 19, 2010

It is time for some humility - Oh Lordy...

HumilityImage by Perfesser via Flickr

"it is time for some humility, concludes [a deservedly humble man]"

The sheer nerve of a request for "humility" against those who put their reputations on the line by publishing, under the burden of responsible science.  A request for humility by a humbug.

My comment:

That piece is clearly not a book review (too short and too shallow), and it is not a piece of higher criticism because advances no thesis (concern trolling is the opposite of advancing a thesis).

It is a piece of opinion placed in a corner of Nature where the editors don't have to take any responsibility for the opinion.  And quite a shabby bit of opinion making.

And why this fringe voice chosen?  (Bjorn was caught out misrepresenting sources, the Superfreakonomics chapter was a hash, so RPJr steps up to the plate...  And RPJr's tack will run out quickly as well - it seems to be entirely based on the idea that facts can be "contaminated" by scientists who have a preferred policy outcome.  Because politics is a human activity, and scientists must not be human.)

An disreputable opinion published predominately without risk to reputation. Shameful.  If the self-described "reasonable voices" see the issue not as a matter of scientific fact but as a political or economic one, then commission a paper from a publishing political scientist or an economist.  Instead of publishing potshots and bobbing and weaving and concern trolling.

Was this garbage technique used before against other science that pained industries?  Is there a history of this technique used for tobacco or pharmacological marketing?  Or is energy policy widely understood by "the people who matter" to be all encompassing?

Obviously, industry funds a lot of research.  Is this garbage based on many industry voices among the circle of acquaintance of Nature's editors saying that the economic replacements for carbon fuels are just not ready yet, so the scientific question of human culpability in global warming has to simmer on the back burner for a while?  (Sadly, the industry concerns are probably more cynical than this - an indirect demand from those who get paid today that they deserve to get paid tomorrow, oil rigs or not, refineries or not.)

John Mashey did a bang up job tracking the pitifully few scientists who promote obscurantism against climate science, but I don't recall the editorial boards of top journals being included in his analysis.  And he didn't write about the techniques used in those journals to promote the Art of Controversy against uncomfortable scientific findings.

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1 comment:

JohnMashey said...

Thanks, but I did write this lately, which goes into the funding flows, techniques, social networks ...