The Global Warming Email We've All Been Waiting For

I got a good chuckle out of this piece by George Monbiot in the Guardian about the recent global warming e-mail controversy.

My view is that the emails aren’t that damaging. Is it surprising that scientists would try to keep work that disagrees with their findings out of journals? When I told my father that I was sending my work saying car seats are not that effective to medical journals, he laughed and said they would never publish it because of the result, no matter how well done the analysis was. (As is so often the case, he was right, and I eventually published it in an economics journal.)

Within the field of economics, academics work behind the scenes constantly trying to undermine each other. I’ve seen economists do far worse things than pulling tricks in figures. When economists get mixed up in public policy, things get messier. So it is not at all surprising to me that climate scientists would behave the same way.

(Hat tip: Tony Pell)

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  1. Aaron says:

    It may not be surprising, but it’s unscientific, which is the whole point. The virtues of scientific discovery are squandered when people and positions are more important than accurate conclusions. Because global warming research is driving policy decisions that have implications measured in trillions of dollars, the research ought to be correct, not simply preferred.

    That said, I haven’t seen how these emails prove the prevailing research is incorrect.

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  2. AC says:

    This seems more like a reason to keep science away from advocacy politics rather than to excuse bad behavior

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  3. Jimmy says:

    That might be fine in Economics, Sociology, or English. Trends come and go every 20 years in those disciplines and for the most part, truth is quite relative.

    That’s not the case with Science. If you submit something to a math journal showing that some other proof is wrong and can show exactly where, it will get published. Same with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Science is supposed to figure out how things work and papers are supposed to reflect reality, not some other culturally popular thing. In a math journal if you prove something, it’s interesting and show how it works, it will get published.

    Climate Science is not a science in this respect. Hypotheses aren’t tested, they’re modeled. And if you happen to disagree with the model? They’ll ban you somehow. It should not be called a science, it should be called “climate studies” and be given no more clout than sociology. There’s nothing “settled” in such a discipline. It’s arguments and guesses and no actual truth. That’s the difference.

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  4. Pete says:

    “Is it surprising that scientists would try to keep work that disagrees with their findings out of journals?”

    This is Science, nor Religion.

    Yes it is suprising that they would try to remove the “peer reviewed” classification from those who they do not agree.

    these emails and those who sent them are like a cancer in the scientific community. after all, People who said the Earth is round, or that the Earth is not the center of the universe were discredited at one point too.

    how fitting that here, those who have a view outside of the norm are once again chastized because the science does not agree with everyone.

    Albert also had the same problem.

    After all, this is science. not politics or religion. or at least… it should be.

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  5. Dober says:

    Keep in mind that one of the main arguments for the true believers is that this is peer reviewed science, and therefor their conclusions and solutions have to be true.

    What’s amazing is that most of these true believers know nothing about “climategate”, and refuse to even consider that there could be conflicts of interest in the community.

    Who is John Galt?

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  6. Sean Samis says:

    What is not clear to me is whether these “damaging” emails undermine the claim that global warming is occurring or whether they undermine various explanations for WHY it’s occurring. These are two distinct issues. I don’t need to know what is burning or why to see the smoke coming out of my kitchen.

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  7. anon says:

    Colluding to delete documents subject to a UK Freedom of Information Act request is a criminal act. Period.

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  8. xoxo says:

    “Within the field of economics, academics work behind the scenes constantly trying to undermine each other. I’ve seen economists do far worse things than pulling tricks in figures.”

    which is one of the reasons why economics is not science.

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