Thursday, February 25, 2010

Science's Big Problem

The Climategate row is developing into a delicious phase, as Dr. Judith Curry, professor of climate science at Georgia Institute of Technology, defends the climate scientists on and writes about rebuilding trust through better communication.

That was yesterday. Today Willis Eschenbach has responded and he has hit the ball out of the ballpark. It's not a question of better communication, he thunders:

The key to restoring trust has nothing to do with communication. Steve McIntyre doesn’t inspire trust because he is a good communicator. He inspires trust because he follows the age-old practices of science — transparency and openness and freewheeling scientific discussion and honest reporting of results.

Yeah. I'll say. Imagine climate science that believes in transparency and openness!

But the problem is bigger than that. The problem is that the scientists are in the pockets of the politicians. Why is that? It's because nearly all the research money comes from government.

That being so, the Climategate disaster is not a shocking and unexpected betrayal of scientific ethics. It's just what you would expect. Politicians want power. Politicians want science that gives them more power. The only way for scientists to do science is for them to do science that gives politicians more power.

The solution to the problem of scientists doubling as advocates and cutting corners like advocates is to stop taking government money.

Until then it is right and proper for the American people to regard scientists as just like the folks at the DMV. And really, given the tenure and the pensions available to DMV workers and college professors alike, the only difference is that the professors make more money.

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