Expensive Beliefs

Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. – Ambrose Peirce
Posted: March 31st, 2010 | By Bruce Gorton

Climategate was basically a crisis for climate science – mainly because it represented using emails to attack the integrity of the scientists.

What was attempted with these emails was to show that the basic climate change denial conspiracy theory was right, and that scientists were hiding data that didn’t fit the climate-change picture.

It is startling to note how similar this is to the creationist conspiracy theory espoused by Ben Stein’s “Expelled”, which accused the science community to “expelling” creationists. It was later revealed that Ben Stein, also known for attaching his name to a website that sells people information they have a legal right to get for free, was talking out of his backside.

And now Britain’s inquiry into the climate-gate emails has concluded that there was no intention of decieving anyone and that the emails were pretty much private corrospondence, not peer reviewed science. Which is something most people would have realised at the get-go if they bothered to actually think about it.

Now, my take on the crisis when it first started (Which is before I had this nice little blog to rant on) was that if you take ten years of any organisation or even individual’s emails you will find stuff that makes them look bad.

There really was nothing to it, but because everyone just loves the idea that government wants to inconvenience you for no apparent reason, or that somehow a bunch of NGOs are richer than the entire flipping oil industry*, or that science is somehow corrupt, it was allowed to stymy any action on climate change.

Now I am all for skepticism. The funny thing is though that most of the real climate change skeptics are the ones who say that it is real, and probably happening because of humans pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Skepticism isn’t contrarianism, it isn’t saying “no” to something that is generally accepted as being right. A black sheep is still a sodding sheep – the argument from unpopularity is every bit the fallacy that the argument from popularity is.

Skepticism is critically evaluating ideas and the evidence for them and shaping your opinions accordingly.Simple dismissal isn’t critical thinking. Whether your conclusion is popular or not is ultimately irrelevant to the facts at hand.

* Think about this, the entire argument of “Scientists find the conclusions based on who sponsors them” rests on the belief that hippies are richer than oil barons.




March 31, 2010 at 9:41 am

The UEA is panned in this report for its attitude to FOI requests. And who – at the very least – wholeheartedly embraced that policy? If you’ve read the emails, you won’t need an answer from me!
The outcome is the expected whitewash, reported with the spin we have come to expect from the EDP in relation to this story. Other whitewashes are bound to follow, Whitehall needs the ‘Green’ taxes.

” In the context of the sharing of data and methodologies, we consider that Prof. Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the Climate Science community. It is not common practice in climate science to publish raw data and the computer code in academic papers.”

And therein lies the basis of the problem. Why should climate science be any different from other kinds of science? Perhaps they have something to hide!


Bruce Gorton

March 31, 2010 at 10:42 am

“Even if the data that CRU used were not publicly available—which they mostly are—or the methods not published—which they have been—its published results would still be credible: the results from CRU agree with those drawn from other international data sets; in other words, the analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.”

The idea that this is a Whitehall white-wash doesn’t work when you consider that it would require governments worldwide, which can’t even agree that not killing people for changing their minds is a good idea, to act in unison to orchestrate a major scientific fraud.



March 31, 2010 at 10:42 pm

If Whitehall needed an excuse to raise taxes they could just cite bailing out the banks or the Afghan war or they could even do it for “the children”, “the economy”, or “for the hell of it”.

I mean really, it’s bonkers to believe “Whitehall” would bother plotting a long drawn out affair using CRU just so 20 years down the line some future government could increase taxes. That’s assuming they are competent enough to plan something so big let alone keep it quiet. How does that work, is each civil servant passing down the plan in hushed whisper from his predecessor? Why would they care?

I think the real fact here is that people throw around the “it’s just an excuse to tax us” line because it’s a convenient way of dismissing the subject.



March 31, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the impossibility of controlling international science, Bruce Gorton covered that. So the idea that it’s a tax plan is doubly nonsensical.

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