11.30.2009 0

Too Hot Not To Note: Why Science Is Not Final Arbiter Of Truth

  • On: 12/11/2009 09:20:13
  • In: Energy Crisis, Global Warming Fraud, and the Environment

  • ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured op-ed from Investors Business Daily, the President of the Independent Institute, David Theroux, proves why it is science should go back into the lab and out of government.

    Why Science Is Not Final Arbiter Of Truth


    Regardless of what the politicians decide at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the game has changed.
    Thanks to the e-mail exchanges and other documents hacked from computers at the Hadley Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, we now know there has been a conspiracy among some in the science community to spread alarmist views of global warming and intimidate, if not silence, those who disagree.

    Let’s hope these revelations result in a sober reassessment both of academia, generally, and the scientific enterprise specifically.
    For far too long, science has been shrouded in a cloak of unquestionable authority as the final arbiter of all knowledge (except, of course, when the research has been funded by business, which for some makes it necessarily suspect).

    Such a status has resulted in the creation of enormous, government-funded institutions to examine seemingly every aspect of human existence, with climate science alone receiving $7 billion annually from the U.S. government — more than is spent on cancer and AIDS research.

    Unlike business- or even independently funded research, the findings and recommendations of government-funded researchers has been viewed by many as sacrosanct.

    The mania regarding “global warming” is Exhibit A, in which the alleged “peer-reviewed” findings of a “consensus” of scientists claim to have found the “fact” that human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are creating an ecological holocaust, and only draconian controls on various areas of human activity can avert this calamity.

    In the process, ethics, economic principles, contrary evidence and common sense are all swept aside.

    As my colleague Robert Higgs noted last year in Nature magazine: “The peer-review process is not, contrary to popular belief, a nearly flawless system of Olympian scrutiny. Any editor of a peer-reviewed journal who desires, for whatever reason, to reject a submission can easily do so by choosing referees who will knock it down.”

    Unfortunately, Higgs wrote, science, like other enterprises, can fall victim to “personal vendettas, ideological conflicts, professional jealousies, methodological disagreements, sheer self-promotion and irresponsibility.”

    With the revelations from what is now being called “Climate-gate,” many people are beginning to see a grand scam in which data were deliberately distorted; peer review was gamed by manipulating and stacking the process; critics were smeared, black-balled, de-funded and even fired; opposing papers were kept from publication; and politically savvy scientists worked in concert with journalists, politicians, bureaucrats and interest groups to deceive both opinion leaders and the public to further their agenda.

    We have seen such campaigns before, all claiming to be based on expert findings in the natural and social “sciences,” including eugenics, zero population growth, the welfare system, ozone depletion, electromagnetism and cancer, economic bailouts, the environmental Superfund and even Obama-Care.

    The reality that has been missed here is that science — more accurately, the scientific method — is merely a technique or procedure for examining the material world, and its validity rests upon a philosophical (metaphysical) logic of ideas that is nonmaterial.
    While science can tell us what is materially, it cannot tell us what ought to be. Those are our choices. Hence science, while being an irreplaceable method of inquiry, is contingent on other factors and cannot itself be the final authority on truth.

    By missing this point, some in academia and the scientific world have too often corrupted and politicized the enterprise of science, producing its exact opposite.

    The Climate-gate revelations may finally dispel the myth that has surrounded the global warming movement and trigger a movement to put scientific inquiry back into the laboratory and keep it out of the political arena.

    • Theroux is president of the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.

    Copyright © 2008-2023 Americans for Limited Government