Quote of the Day, Climate Change and Real Science edition

February 26, 2015

Renaissance science wonder Flammarion

From Ian Plimer on “Science and the Politics of Climate Change.” This had me pumping my fist and almost shouting “yes!”

We derive scientific evidence from measurement, observation, and experiment. Evidence must be repeatable and collected over and over again. Computers do not generate evidence: they analyse evidence that should have been repeated and validated. On the basis of the evidence and analysis of evidence, an explanation is given. This explanation is a scientific theory and must be in accord with other validated evidence from diverse sources (this is known as the coherence criterion in science). Unlike in law, there is no inadmissible evidence in science. Science is underpinned by practitioners who must be sceptical of the methodology used to collect evidence, the analysis of evidence, and the conclusions based on the evidence. On the basis of new evidence, scientists must always be prepared to change their opinions.

Science bows to no authority , is not based on a consensus, and is in a constant state of flux. No great advance in science has been made by consensus: advances have been made by individuals paddling upstream. If a scientific theory is not in accord with validated evidence, then the theory must be abandoned and reconstructed. It is scepticism that underpins science, not the comfort of consensus.

The theory of human-induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures are treated as evidence. Furthermore, climate ‘science’ is sustained by government research grants. Funds are not available to investigate theories that are not in accord with government ideology.

Preach it, Brother Ian!

Excerpted from “Climate Change: The Facts.”

Activists and the danger to science

August 22, 2011

Okay, I think the tolerance of activists (1) has gone on a bit too long. It’s bad enough we have animal rights and eco-terrorists trashing labs and harassing researchers in their homes, or destroying property to fight the evils of AM radio waves. These are people whose values are so warped that they see no problem with trampling on the rights of others in ways wholly beyond the pale of a civilized, democratic society, because their cause is righteous, while all others are evil.

But terrorism in the name of chronic fatigue sufferers? Harassing and threatening scientists with death because they offer an alternative theory of the causes? Really?

Yes, really.

The full extent of the campaign of intimidation, attacks and death threats made against scientists by activists who claim researchers are suppressing the real cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is revealed today by the Observer. According to the police, the militants are now considered to be as dangerous and uncompromising as animal rights extremists.

One researcher told the Observer that a woman protester who had turned up at one of his lectures was found to be carrying a knife. Another scientist had to abandon a collaboration with American doctors after being told she risked being shot, while another was punched in the street. All said they had received death threats and vitriolic abuse.

In addition, activists – who attack scientists who suggest the syndrome has any kind of psychological association – have bombarded researchers with freedom of information requests, made rounds of complaints to university ethical committees about scientists’ behaviour, and sent letters falsely alleging that individual scientists are in the pay of drug and insurance companies.

“I published a study which these extremists did not like and was subjected to a staggering volley of horrible abuse,” said Professor Myra McClure, head of infectious diseases at Imperial College London. “One man wrote he was having pleasure imagining that he was watching me drown. He sent that every day for months.”

If there’s such a thing as a jump-the-shark moment for activism, this is it.

Not to make light of those who suffer from CFS, but the people conducting this campaign, whether themselves afflicted with chronic fatigue or not, should be thrown into Her Majesty’s Prison for a good long stay.

This behavior is appalling not only for the for threats to the safety of the researchers, but also in the longer term for the hostility it shows towards basic science and the search for truth. The heart of the scientific method is the testing of falsifiable hypotheses, to see if they stand up to empirical observation. If they don’t, you refine or abandon them and develop another that better fits the facts — and you expect that to be tested and challenged, too.

And while the actions of these, let’s be blunt, terrorists are reprehensible, they are little different at their root from the mindset of others who demand science submit to “correct ideas.” Whether in service of a secular or religious ideology, it is an attempt to corrupt science and the scientific method and it should be opposed every time it occurs, even if the cause is thought noble. To excuse or justify the threatening of scientists because they advance a theory someone doesn’t like, even when that someone claims the moral shield of “victim,” as with the CFS sufferers, is to strike at the foundations of democratic society and Western civilization, itself.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

(1) “Activist:” a noun often referring to someone who acts like a jerk in the belief that other people will be impressed and join his cause.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)