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Old 08-23-2005, 09:44 AM   #1
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Does Science Really Exist Anymore

Between corporate funding and political agendas, will we ever get a pure scientific analysis, or will they always be tainted by various worldviews....

Panelist Who Dissents on Climate Change Quits

A scientist who has long disagreed with the dominant view that global warming stems mainly from human activity has resigned from a panel that is completing a report for the Bush administration on temperature trends in the atmosphere.

The scientist, Roger A. Pielke Sr., a climatologist at Colorado State University, said most of the other scientists working on the report were too deeply wedded to particular views and were discounting minority opinions on the quality of climate records and possible causes of warming.

"When you appoint people to a committee who are experts in an area but evaluating their own work," he said in an interview, "it's very difficult for them to think outside the box of their research."

Administration officials said the resignation would not affect the quality or credibility of the report, a draft of which is being finished in the next few weeks.

The report, the first product of President Bush's 10-year climate change research program, is likely to be closely scrutinized by climate scientists and environmental and industry groups for any sign of bias or distortion.

Its main focus is to explore why thermometers at the earth's surface, especially in the tropics, have measured more warming than has been detected by satellites and weather balloons in the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere up to where jetliners cruise.

Dr. Pielke contends that changes in landscapes like the spread of agriculture and cities could explain many of the surface climate trends, while most climate experts now see a clear link to accumulating emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide.

James R. Mahoney, an assistant secretary of commerce and the director of the federal climate research program, said the scientists involved in generating the report were "representative of the broad views" on the questions.

Mr. Mahoney noted that drafts of the climate report would be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences and were subject to public comment.

"I'm disappointed that Dr. Pielke has chosen to resign over this," Mr. Mahoney said.

Dr. Pielke said he decided to resign after three papers on the troposphere trends were published online on Aug. 11 by the journal Science. The papers said errors in satellite and balloon studies in the tropics explained why earlier analyses failed to find warming in the troposphere.

Several authors of those papers, who are also authors of the coming government report, said at the time that the new findings would be discussed in the report.

Dr. Pielke said those statements were an effort to influence the shape of the final report.

Several authors of those papers denied this, saying the process of creating the reports is intended to be public, while the contents remain confidential for now.

John R. Christy, another author of the coming report who like Dr. Pielke doubts that human-caused warming poses a serious threat, said that while disagreements were normal, the effort to generate the report was improving understanding.

"This process is the worst way to generate scientific information," said Dr. Christy, who teaches at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. "Except for all the others."

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Old 08-23-2005, 09:47 AM   #2
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perhaps...there could be a system where working isn't about survival...oh nevermind.

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Old 08-23-2005, 09:50 AM   #3
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Science isn't as pure as it used to be, but it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:51 AM   #4
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I think like everything else education, religion, business; science too can be poluted by agendas. But just like everything else you must sift through all the shit to find the truth...or at least the closest we can get to the truth.
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:58 AM   #5
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science is in constant tension with itself.

as it should be.

we accept what we can know at the time, while keeping an open, skeptical mind and an ability to rethink that which had become dogma in light of new evidence.
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Old 08-23-2005, 01:32 PM   #6
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It's in the nature of science to resist change in theory or practice. It's conservative. I should know, my father is a retired scientist, a physician. I know that the medical profession is like the priesthood, with ego problems as bad as those in Hollywood, and I would imagine that science in general is like that. I don't think this sort of thing is new, this field doesn't change. Sometimes it drives me nuts.
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Old 08-23-2005, 06:21 PM   #7
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Science may be conservative, but the thing that people forget is that the conservatism of science is different from the political definition of conservative.

Science is based on constant change. Without change, discovery, and innovation, science is no different from its polar opposites, politics and religion.

To a scientist, "conservative" means that old ideas are held unless there is compelling evidence to discard them. Or, more often, parts of them. Climate change is so contentious because two camps, starting from different evidences, have failed to find compelling evidence to discard their hypotheses.

Did you know that weather forecasts more than three days in advance are no more than guesses? It's true; the size of the earth restricts accurate predicting of weather (a chaotic phenomenon) more than three days in advance. Couple this with the billions of variables that can affect climate, and it's no wonder there's arguing.

Also, it is worth pointing out a crucial fact about science that is relatively unknown outside of science: being wrong is not bad. Being completely, fundamentally incorrect about your theories, your hypotheses, and your inferences is far less damaging than non-scientists think. If the task you've undertaken is physically impossible, if the species you seek is actually extinct, if the drug you test fails, all of these things enrich the total body of science. Failing to make a physically impossible structure will not lose you grant money. Learning a particular drugh structure is ineffective in humans will not lose you your job at Bayer.

Failure is progress. Dissent is progress. And that's what science is all about.
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Old 08-23-2005, 06:29 PM   #8
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I dont think fact, cold hard fact, can be altered in itself. Only our willingness to accept it can be altered.
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Old 08-23-2005, 07:12 PM   #9
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science is culturally constructed, like anything else. the kinds of questions we ask are informed not only by political agendas, but by our own experiences and assumptions. why is it that breast cancer research was done on MALE subjects until 20 years ago? Because the male body was considered the "average" body, and because of sexism. So I think that while "objective" science does exist is it informed by cultural ideologies...
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:01 PM   #10
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The problem here is less the science and more the fact that this scientific issue has become a politically charged issue.

The majority of scientists believe in global warming, which is a highly complex issue--more complex than you'll get in a television news sound bite. And we have made some progress in some issues that take a while to get out of its system. Banning certain industrial emissions have ensured the health of our ozone layer for the long-term, even if emissions from the 1980s is still finding its way to the upper levels of the atmosphere and won't level off and decline for another decade.

Our biggest remaining problem will be our carbon dioxide emissions, and this one seems to get the most arguments from politicians, who want to listen only to the minority of scientists, while the majority screams loud and clear that global warming exists.

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Old 08-23-2005, 09:03 PM   #11
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But by putting this argument into the framework of majorities and minorities you are making it into consensus and politics. Don't argue the facts argue the polls so to speak.
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:08 PM   #12
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
But by putting this argument into the framework of majorities and minorities you are making it into consensus and politics. Don't argue the facts argue the polls so to speak.
Let me put it this way, since I agree with what you've said here. Science does have inherent uncertainty to it, and that's a good thing. Scientists should continue forward the debate on global warming, but, at the same time, I also don't see any merit to pollution, no matter how harmful or harmless a subset of scientists believe.

I'm disappointed, however, that this science and inherent scientific uncertainty has hit the banal retardation that is "politics." I swear...I sometimes feel as if "politics" only attracts narcissists, zealots, and idiots.

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Old 08-23-2005, 09:23 PM   #13
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Originally posted by melon
I swear...I sometimes feel as if "politics" only attracts narcissists, zealots, and idiots.

Amen to that (although, thankfully, we've got people like U2democrat, who can be an exception to that belief ).


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