Self-serving Scientists are Missing Their Chance

Tue, 2006-08-08 10:50Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Self-serving Scientists are Missing Their Chance

There was a flurry of comments a couple of weeks back which, in part, repeated the argument that climate change is a trumped-up fiction created by a world-wide web of self-serving scientists, all of them desperate for a share of the government funding currently devoted to climate research.

I don't get this argument. Last time I checked, the Republicans had a death grip on the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. government – and the Republican policy is to challenge climate change science on every front. (Exceptions made for Arnie Schwarzenegger, et al, at the state level.) 

It seems to me that if a no-account scientist was really keen to get unearned government support, said scientist would be pitching research that took issue with climate change, thereby earning the approbation of the current administration. Such a scientist might even bump the fiction-writing Michael Crichton from his position as George W. Bush's expert-of-choice.

No?

Previous Comments

Not really.  Most of the inertia for funding climate science was well established before Bush took office.  While Bush and company may not choose to heed the advice of the scientists, they haven’t killed them off.

Also, while Bush and company may affect the overall level of funding for some of these topics, I don’t think they get down into the minutia and deal out the individual grants.

It’s always going to be self-serving to show results that require immediate action, or more research.  This doesn’t make those results wrong, it’s just the nature of the beast.  I think it’s intellectually dishonest to dismiss this effect, just as it’s equally dishonest to over-play it.

The scientific peer review process is designed to filter this stuff out.  If you overplay your results, in theory someone should nail you for it.  If your peer can prove that they are more of an expert than you, that should be to their advantage.

The problem with the ‘trumped up fiction’ idea, is that it requires a conspiracy of scientists working together for their own collective advantage.  This is unlikely.  These climate scientists are working for the same money.  They should be competing, and if they see bogus results, it should be to their advantage to point it out.