[Coral-List] Don't be such a scientist

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 12 11:25:09 EST 2012

After taking issue with Gene's post regarding the CO2science
blog and Ian Clark's presentation to the Canadian Senate, 
I have received messages off list that appear to question my
motives. Being an admitted non-scientist and therefore somewhat 
of an intruder, it has caused me to re-examine the purpose of 
my involvement and reasons for concern regarding some of these 
discussions. All this introspection has led me to the conclusion
that I have passion and concern for coral reef ecology and a 
long time interest in the science relating to climate change.
Which brings me to a few questions that I would like to pose
to any listers that may be willing to help me better understand
some important concepts regarding proper scientific analysis. 

As it relates to climate change and its associated affects:

Is it appropriate to be concerned about the sources of funding
when scrutinizing scientific studies, commentary and data?

I understand the basic premise that it is the raw science that 
should be closely examined, but I still believe that funding 
sources are revealing and that it is naive to disregard this
factor when considering information presented by either side 
on this issue. If a study was funded by a venture capitalist 
group with large holdings in alternative energy, it would raise
a red flag with me as much as if the source were big oil.

Secondly, where are the reputable, sound studies contradicting 
concerns relating to climate change and ocean acidification 
that are not in some way connected to special interest groups 
that may feel threatened by the prevailing scientific consensus?

I haven't been able to find any. Ian Clark's associations appear 
quite obvious if you care to look. Is there no issue in presenting
him as just some assumedly objective Canadian geologist? And why
does CO2science refuse to reveal their sources of funding? What 
legitimate reason is there to avoid transparency? It reminds me 
of the days when medical science was being challenged by The Tobacco Institute. Should it not have been considered that the institute's
data and studies were funded by the major tobacco companies? 
Didn't the source invite even greater (and appropriate) scrutiny 
and skepticism? 

Any and all comments would be appreciated on or off the list.
Just no threats, please.


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