The “Scientific” Fraud of Climate Doomsday Mongering

With the Climategate revelations, momentum is definitely building against the credibility of the climate doomsday mongering, but will it be enough to derail the juggernaut for global warming statism? As the Wall Street Journal has noted in its November 27th editorial, “Rigging a Climate ‘Consensus'”:

The furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or whether climatologists are nice people. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left ... is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.

Because of these revelations, the now scandal-ridden Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has suddenly reversed their long-standing stonewalling and refusal to comply with requests via the U.K.’s Freedom of Information Act and now will release their “full data.” Meanwhile, in a new report in the Times of London, we now find that, “Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.” In addition, the New Zealand government’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has similarly been “cooking the books.”

But perhaps of even greater importance is whether these revelations will finally bring to light the need for a serious re-assessment of the actual operations of academia and scientific enterprise. For far too long, “science” has been shrouded in a cloak of unquestionable authority as the final arbiter of all knowledge. Such a status has resulted in the creation of enormous, government-funded institutions to examine seemingly every aspect of human existence, with climate science receiving a whopping $7 billion annually from the U.S. government alone (more than is spent on cancer and AIDS research). The conclusions from such endeavors have been viewed by many as utterly sacrosanct, around which public policy and the law itself should allegedly be based.

In the process, this dogmatic commitment to “science” and a government-science complex as the source of all higher truth has produced a narrow-minded worship of scientific materialism, the reductionist fallacy of “scientism.” Almost daily for example, media reports claim that “in the name of science” yet another enduring human characteristic has now been “explained” away—from free will to love, from moral conscience to reason, from education to the arts, from commerce to law—in purely deterministic terms, with government power the requisite means to address social problems by redesigning and controlling mankind.

And the mania regarding “global warming” is exhibit A, in which the alleged “peer-reviewed” findings of a “consensus” of scientists claims to have found the “fact” that human emissions of CO2 are creating an ecological holocaust, and only draconian controls on all areas of human life will avert this calamity. In the process, ethics, economic principles, contrary evidence, and common sense are all swept aside in a mad rush for climate statism.

But with the revelations from Climategate, many people are now beginning to see a grand scam, in which data is deliberately distorted; peer review is gamed by manipulating and stacking the process; critics are smeared, black-balled, and de-funded; opposing papers are kept from publication; and a cabal of politically-connected scientists are working in concert with certain journalists, politicians, bureaucrats, and interest groups to deceive the public and opinion leaders in order to ram through a politically-correct agenda. Of course, we have seen such campaigns many times before, all claiming to be based on expert findings in the natural and social “sciences,” including eugenics, the creation of the Federal Reserve, zero population growth, the New Deal, ozone depletion, electro-magnetism and cancer, economic bailouts, Superfund, the war in Iraq, and even Obamacare.

The reality that has been missed here is that science is merely a technique or procedure for examining the material world, and the validity of such a technique rests upon a prior philosophical (metaphysical) logic of ideas, that is all necessarily non-material. Moreover, while science can tell us what is materially, it cannot tell us what ought our choices to be with such conditions. Hence, science, while being an irreplaceable contributing method of inquiry, is contingent and cannot itself be the final authority on truth. By missing this point and succumbing to the worship of scientism, much of academia and the scientific world has too often corrupted and politicized the enterprise of science, producing its exact opposite.

More than six decades ago, C.S. Lewis prophetically warned us of this very same corruption of science and morality in his brilliant novel, That Hideous Strength, in which a group of university scientists conspires to take over society by manipulating information and people in order to impose the horror of a scientistic, totalitarian state, all to “save” nature and create a new “mankind.” Lewis simultaneously examined these central issues in his classic book on epistemology and ethics, The Abolition of Man.

For further prescient assessments of this serious problem and the need for accountable, de-socializing solutions, please see the following:

“Peer Review and Scientific Consensus,” by Robert Higgs (Nature Magazine, September 17, 2007)

“Peer Review, Publication in Top Journals, Scientific Consensus, and So Forth,” by Robert Higgs (History News Network, May 7, 2007)

“Groupthink in Academia: Majoritarian Departmental Politics and the Professional Pyramid,” by Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern (The Independent Review, Spring 2009)

“Government and Science: A Dangerous Liaison?”, by William N. Butos and Thomas J. McQuade (The Independent Review, Fall 2006)

“Facts, Values, and the Burden of Proof,” by Peter Lewin (The Independent Review, Spring 2007)

“Institutional Review Board Mission Creep: The Common Rule, Social Science, and the Nanny State,” by Ronald F. White (The Independent Review, Spring 2007)

“Science as a Market Process,” by Allan M. Walstad (The Independent Review, Summer 2002)

The Academy in Crisis: The Political Economy of Higher Education, edited by John W. Sommer (1995)

The Independent Institute was also among the very first and few organizations to debunk the erroneous claims of man-made climate crises, starting ten years ago with such publications as the following:

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer (1999)

“After Kyoto: A Global Scramble for Advantage,” by Bruce Yandle (The Independent Review, Summer 1999)

A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth, by Wilfred Beckerman (2002)

New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us, by S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, and Wendy M. Novicoff (2003)

“Is There a Basis for Global Warming Alarm?”, by Richard S. Lindzen (Yale Center for the Study of Globalization)

Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy, edited by Robert Higgs and Carl P. Close (2005)

“Should We Have Acted Thirty Years Ago to Prevent Climate Change?”, by Randall G. Holcombe (The Independent Review, Fall 2006)

Finally, the following Institute video is especially timely and incisive:

States of Fear: Science or Politics?, featuring the late Michael Crichton and a panel of distinguished scientists, including Bruce Ames (University of California, Berkeley), Sallie Baliunas (Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), William Gray (Colorado State University), and Oregon State Climatologist George Taylor

David J. Theroux is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Institute.
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