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Monday, December 07, 2009

Are Politicians or Scientists to Blame for Climategate?

Via Powerline ...

This was a big weekend for the Washington Post. In a front-page story today, it exposed, albeit almost sub silentio, the incompetence of the Obama administration's decision-making process with respect to Afghanistan. And in a front-page story yesterday, it reported, for the first time I believe, on Climategate.

Why did it take the Post so long to provide an account of Climategate? It seems to me that the authors, David Farhenthold and Juliet Eilperin, reveal the reason when they claim that the "scandal has done what many slide shows and public-service ads could not: focus public attention on the science of a warming planet."
The Post suggests that science was the victim of politics. In other words, politicians have demanded more certainty than science can provide, and this created pressure on scientists to fudge results or give short shrift to science they don't like.

This is a questionable hypothesis. It seems just as likely that fanatical scientists, with opportunistic politicians as their hand-maidens, have helped create the frenzied political atmosphere that some now blame for the bad science. To me, it's a "chicken or the egg" sort of question that's of little interest...

Perhaps it is an appreciation of these costs, or more likely an appreciation of their resonance in the public mind, that induces some scientists to engage in propaganda, instead true science, so as to create undue alarm.

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