Monday, February 15, 2010


We have long been accustomed to believe that science is absolutely truthful. In little more than half a century, that is changed. As everyone knows, a hacker broke into the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and distributed thousands of e-mails indicating blatant attempts by the Global Warming professors to cook the books.
There’s more. We learn that 5,428 Global Warming articles in Wikipedia have been rewritten. (Click on Lawrence Solomon; read his article, “How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles," published originally in the Financial Post of December 19, 2009.) That’s not all. Another 500 articles were deleted, reports Solomon.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) activists were involved. There was a Medieval Warm Period around 1000 AD to 1400 AD, which was warmer than today. It was not caused by humans. The existence of that Medieval Warm Period is fatal to the Global Warming activists, such that they have been induced to erase the record.

They present their hypotheses as facts. Real scientists are silent. The IPCC has a website for attacking articles that disagree with their position:

(Late news: Professor Phil Jones, lately resigned-head of CRU, now admits there were warmer periods than at present.)

Physicist Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, gave the commencement lecture last year at the California Institute of Technology, “during which he grossly misrepresented climate science and lied outright about the sea-level experimental data,” charges Dr. Arthur Robinson, editor of Access To Energy in its December issue. When three eminent alumni, one a Nobel Prize winner, offered to give a seminar, the university said No.

Caltech used to boast that “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” In 1974, physicist Richard Feynman warned in a commencement address at Caltech that scientists are losing their freedom to be truthful; his speech was abridged to remove Climate Change and other concerns to Government.

The seeds of corruption in science were planted in World War II, when our country was at war and the Government was there to finance a Manhattan Project. The war over, universities and national laboratories, which had expanded with buildings and staff, needed continued government funding to support their expansion. Meanwhile, activists in the scientific community saw a role for Government to continue its largess. If Government could conquer such a problem as financing a war, it could conquer non-science problems like cancer.

Thus the idea gained currency that Government support should continue. Government became a generous source of grants and contracts. (In the 1950s, I often wondered why the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economic at Yale University, where I was working, had a contract with the U.S. Navy. What could Cowles economists be doing that was of interest to the Navy? Now finally I know. Possibly nothing. The Navy was helping spread government contracts to academic institutions.)

As universities and national laboratories expanded through government grants and contracts, the idea took hold that recipients of government funds should be careful to not offend Government. In benefited institutions, scientists let their non-science colleagues know that they should not partake in discussions of issues of concern to Government.

There are true scientists and others “in the business of science.” True scientists think about science all the time, even when asleep, according to Dr. Arthur Robinson in Access To Energy. (Scientist Feynman in his autobiography describes how he trained himself to concentrate, upon falling asleep, on what he was thinking.)

The increase in funding was an incentive for students to move into various branches of science. They became pseudoscientists in a “welfare program for scientists,” as Access To Energy calls it in a review of the subject which has been the source for this column. With a new Administration in the White House, there has been a further increase in funds for science.

As government funds increased, private funds decreased. In the process, the political conservatism which had dominated scientists withered away. Scientists and academic institutions became liberal, some ultra-liberal.

Thus from World War II to the present, there have been profound change in research, from important subjects to trendy subjects; and a deep diffusion of science by pseudo scientists.

Have these change perhaps been a good thing?

No, says scientist Dr. Robinson, and his examples are many. Tax-funded activities are used by media, politicians, and business interests to mislead the public. Example: Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” “is filled with numerous outright lies about climate science, with almost no response from academic scientists.”

Example: The IPCC has billions for research but no experimental or observational facts—only computer models—supporting its hypothesis that human beings cause climate change.

Example: Dr. Craig Venter with a private non-government team solved the human genome, spending less than five percent of the amount Government was prepared to give to an academic team.

Example: Scientific journals now have pseudo scientists on their staffs who use the journals to advance their agenda (American Physical Society, Chemical and Engineering News).

In a call for freedom for scientific integrity, Feynman concluded his 1974 commencement address:

So I have just one wish for you—the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.

Br Natalie Sirkin


Mike J. said...

University grants have long been a government sponsered gravy train for scientists. It is unfortunate that scientific truth now must be interpreted to reflect political policy.

When the scientists of our University system give up their integrity to maintain their funding, they have reduced themselves to nothing more than government employees living off the tax dollar while making no real contribution to society.

The Federal government thus supresses individual freedom to speak the truth when that truth does not coincide with it's current policy agenda.

David said...

This was a massive government failure that allowed certain Scientists to run out of control. In other areas of environmental or safety assessment such as drugs or nuclear safety, the regulators require formal and elaborate quality control of data and analysis. This often goes to excess but rarely is the base data suspect.

Perhaps assigning data review and storage tasks to a more disinterested agency like NIST (the former National Bureau of Standards) would separate the advocate from the regulator. In this case the advocates are those with the climate models. Greens argued this very same point years ago to split the Atomic Enegy Commission into the NRC and what became the Department of Energy.

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