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Archive for December 2009

“Climate Gate”

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I just heard this term today on the radio. It refers to a scandal in the scientific community regarding the science behind climate change. Now, before I go too far, I feel it only fair to state my position. I have always been skeptical about the scientific claims of Global Warming/Climate Change (though never dismissive). As odd as it may sound, my objections have always been more philosophical than scientific (since I am far closer to being a philosopher than a scientist). I have always had a difficult time with the idea that we humans, in the space of a few decades, have succeeded in causing cataclysmic damage to the global climate. In essence, the message is, “Oops, we broke the earth.” It simply seems ludicrous to me, and what scientific explanations I have heard have been insufficient in convincing me.

Back to the point. On 11/19, hacked emails were leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in the U.K. which indicated that research findings were falsified “in order to exaggerate the possible threat of man-made global warming.” Of course, extreme views on either side abound. On the one hand, this is being considered “the scandal of the century,” and on the other the whole thing is dismissed as utterly irrelevant to the debate. Both extremes are unnecessary.

That being said, it is disturbing to find that data was modified in order to present a more favorable outcome. Without question, falsification of graphical/statistical data is something we are familiar with. Graphs and statistics are always met with an air of skepticism due to their malleable nature. But we’re talking about scientists here! These are not businessmen trying to soften the blow of a down profit quarter. These are men of science, men of truth, men whom public opinion holds in high regard due to the perceived sacredness of their mission. Scientists are the priests of Secular Religion – they are the new purveyors of absolute truth. Thus, the falsification of research findings is (or ought to be) for the world of Science as transgressive as the recent moral scandals among Catholic priests! Furthermore, due to the grave and serious claims of Climate Change proponents and the drastic measures which their science necessarily dictates, shouldn’t they be held to an even higher scrutiny?

I don’t think these findings destroy all of the research behind climate change, nor should they. But it has called into question the motives behind the science. Why would someone falsify data? What benefit are they gaining by doing so? It seems (surprise, surprise) that the whole thing has become a political animal, rather than a scientific one, and herein lies my frustration. Anyone with me??

Written by jeffrossman

December 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm