Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Science' != 'Whatever Scientists Do'

For once, the ecochondriacs have got a point: it's so easy when writing about Climategate to concentrate on individual outrages such as one tree forests and miss the wider context. We should never let indivudal frauds blind us to the basic insanity of the whole project.

There's a great round up here, but I'd just like to pick up on one point S2 makes since it really strikes at the heart of what's gone wrong with climate science.

Theories are like opinions, everyone has them, but to qualify as a bona fide scientific theory, it has to meet certain criteria and chief among them is the issue of falsifiability. To put it another way, a theory has to make predictions that can either be proven or disproved.

Consider Pasteur's debunking of the theory of spontaneous generation. He predicted that nutrient broths kept in flasks protected by filters would remain germ free. Had bacteria grown in these flasks, that would have destroyed his theory. In reality, the broths stayed bug free and so the germ theory was strengthened. That's how science is meant to be done. Climate science? Not so much.

For a group of people so anxious to claim status as secular priests of science, it's remarkable how much climate scientists play fast and loose with this basic principle of science. As far as I can tell, climate science predicts, well, everything, up to and including zombie attacks. Hot/cold, wet/dry, it's all good. It's not so much science as a giant game of Buckaroo where these guys load each and every result onto their model until the point where it collapses into a bucking train wreck.

No doubt these guys would claim that, hey, politics is a contact sport, you've got to go along to get along, blah, blah, blah.... True enough, but they're the ones who keep blathering about how they're the Guardians of True Science. They're Eric Cartman demanding we respect their authoritah... right up until they get caught talking nonsense, in which case it's just politics. Lab coat on, lab coat off. Whatever works best at that particular moment.

Why take their science any more seriously than they do themselves? To paraphrase Ghandi, as far as climate science goes, I would welcome it.

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