29 November, 2009

Climategate in the UK Press

Over in the UK, the Climategate story appears to be getting much more press than it is on this side of the pond. Christopher Booker over at The Daily Telegraph does a good summation on why the scandal is important:

The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Whether or not you believe that Global Climate Change is a genuine threat, you must agree that the accuracy and reliability of the scientific research should be paramount. True science does not care what its observers hope or wish were true, it only deals in what is true. If the data has been fudged, or if the scientists in question chose to cherry pick only the data that bolsters their claims, while knowingly ignoring a far larger set that which does not (even to the extent of destroying that data before anyone else can review it, which the emails clearly discuss), they do not do the scientific process any favors. What is more, the efforts that these scientists made in attempting to stifle dissent and contrary opinion is appalling; even Carl Sagan, in discussing and rejecting the theories of Immanuel Velikovsky and their reception in academic circles, often came to Velikovsky's defense on the intellectual grounds that the scientific process depends on those who constantly question what everyone "assumes to be true". If the theories and assertions that Professors Philip Jones and Michael Mann are to have any validity, they must be held up to the same standards and scrutiny that they themselves demand of their opponents. Especially when they carry such tremendous implications for economic development and government intrusion into everyday life.

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