While at the [Heartland] conference, I happened to sit next to a very pleasant woman from the Ayn Rand Institute, who gave me a book entitled The Logical Leap – which seemed a fitting description of the entire affair. Although PNS does speak about certain kinds of science in negative terms, my overall argument is that the tale of corruption in climate science, as told by cranks and contrarians of various persuasions, only appears to fit this negative narrative if one takes a flying leap over crucial distinctions between the kinds of science that have led to unintended consequences – in which risks tend to be downplayed, and the kinds of science used to understand and address those consequences. It is also important to consider distinctions between different types of knowledge, uncertainty, and peer review – all distinctions that Jerry himself has observed.with an expanded must read essay and a profoundly ignorant and oblivious reply from Jerome Ravetz
That tale of corruption is only believable because of unrealistic public images and expectations of science, e.g., that it provides “proof”, or that it is some sort of a crystal ball. Although skepticism is inherent in the practice of actual science, for reasons that should be obvious, I also argue that many of those who call themselves “skeptics” are actually cranks and contrarians who are performing something like a parody of science. Missing is the crucial wink/nod to indicate it as such – thereby crossing the line from parody to outright deception (see Nachmanovitch 2009), as the act gets mistaken for the real thing by those least informed, and/or cannot tell the difference. The paradox is that parody only sticks when it has some element of truthiness, which means there are lessons in all of this for the practice of science as it enters the policy arena.
I have written at great length on ‘climategate’ without convincing Sylvia of my case, or even of my rationality and integrity, so this time I will make only a few brief remarks. I think that our deepest difference is in our perceptions of the opposed sides in the debate. She sees a consensus of the established, high-quality scientific community on the one hand, with an assortment of cranks, prostitutes and self-deluders (as myself) on the other. By contrast, I would argue that one important source of strength and conviction among the opposition has been the perception of bad practice among the mainstream.Ravetz evidently has been hiding under a rock for the past fifty years. The major political controversies about scientific issues have emerged from high class science only after a considerable study and formation of a strong consensus. They are characterized by a need for action which threatens major industries. Among them have been tobacco, air and water pollution, cfcs, climate change.
It is important to recognize that controversies where the second element was lacking have not become poster kids, including for example, vaccination causing autism. the causes of AIDS/HIV, etc.. There was considerable choosing up side in the Pre Normal Science stage before the scientific consensus emerged, but beyond a few bitter enders (and Eli knows about South Africa) they did not take hold. DDT, not being tied to a large industrial complex, the chemical manufacturers had better things to do, was dragged out only as a distraction for the tobacco companies by Roger Bate and by Bjorn Lomborg supporting the fossil fuel industry's opposition to legislation regulating CO2 emissions.
As Eli and many others have pointed out, the key characters, Fred Singer, Fred Seitz, CEI, the Heartland Institute will help the Jerry Ravetz's of the world on any issue supported by their funders.
Ravetz cannot admit that the play for payers have sucked him in so he blames the scientists. The entire approach of the hookers has been to convince Ravetz not to trust the scientists. They have a ton of money and many cranks to help them. They have succeeded.