[Coral-List] Don't be such a scientist.
eshinn at marine.usf.edu
Thu Jan 12 13:40:32 EST 2012
All that "Don't be too much of a scientist" rhetoric really got
peoples juices flowing. I do not recall saying I did not believe in
climate change but I do question whether CO2 is the main driver or
just along for the ride. There does appear to have been a slow down
in temperature rise (lots of ups and down but basically flat) during
the past decade while CO2 continued to rise. The high world wide
temperature in 1998 has not been repeated so it tends to skew the
curve. The next 10 years should be very telling.
Question? How many coral-listers are climate change researchers?
Very few I suspect yet many seem to accept Al Gores statement that,
"the science is settled." I am certainly not conversant with the
inner working of the climate science community either but as a
geologist I do respect the past and the information stored in the
rocks. Climate has been changing since the beginning of time. Since
I, and I suspect most, coral-listers, are not certified climate
scientists we are all pretty much free to believe, or not believe,
what climate scientists say. Why do I say that?
The Dec 2, 2011 issue of SCIENCE on page 1182 has a striking
Editorial titled "Addressing Scientific Fraud." The editorial points
out that "social psychologist Diederik Stapel fabricated data for
numerous studies conducted over a period of 15-20 years." "Over 100
publications are now under investigation." Apparently this scientist
was a giant in his field. His publications have been referenced by
numerous other scientists, thus compounding the damage his fraud has
created. Further, the article points out that peer review (we like to
call it the gold standard in science) did not, and is not designed
to, catch such fraud. His works passed through 25 different journal
editors! The editorial also points out how "difficult it is for
authorities to respond appropriately, because students, colleagues,
and universities have so much to lose when fraud is alleged." That
would be true for governmental agencies as well. Now I am not
suggesting that any of our esteemed climate scientists have committed
fraud but many have made such accusations. The famous "hockey stick
"curve is a good example.
There is much more in the editorial and I suggest listers
should read it. In the end it was some brave students (call them
skeptics or deniers) who finally brought the fraud to the attention
of authorities. Now I am not a social scientist conversant in their
jargon and interworking's and certainly would not have detected the
fraud either. Admittedly my knowledge of the interworking of climate
scientists is not much better but I do know they appear to be well
funded and a lot is at stake if they are wrong. I suspect that most
coral reef researchers are in pretty much the same boat. I conclude
it is reckless to willingly accept pronouncements from a field of
science about which most of us know so little, especially when it is
based so heavily on computer models using suspect data and a
questionable mind-set so vividly revealed by the Climategate affair.
Yes I know universities authorities investigated and gave these folks
a clean bill of health. What else could they do? Think about the
social science case mentioned earlier.
Many like to make comparisons with the tobacco industry case or
point out that industry money may be funding some "skeptics and
deniers." Is oil company money any different than government money?
It seems both groups have a lot at stake.
In conclusion, On page 1220 of the same SCIENCE issue is another
sociology article titled "Experimenting with Buddies" which relates
how groups of people using social media were experimentally
manipulated. Could that happen on the coral list? Umm---we may never
know when and how we are being manipulated. Who ever started the
"don't be too much of a scientist" stuff probably had it right.
Scientists can be as wrong and biased as anyone else. Gene
No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
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