Climate Gate – All the manipulations and lies revealed 185

“WE are truly living in a strange world when the word sceptic, as in the term climate sceptic, has come to be used as an insult.

It used to be the case that there was something honourable about being a sceptic.”

“What does it mean then when supporters of one interpretation of climate change claim that those who do not support them are deniers, not really scientists and therefore not worthy of a hearing?

It can only mean one thing. One group of people has attempted to turn its particular interpretation into a dogma that is beyond challenge. It has become a form of absolute truth. This is not a form of scientific activity but a political act.”

“Why are climate change advocates so willing to accept so much on authority and not use their critical faculties?

There is an obvious answer. Their education has taught them that the political is more important than the intellectual. Political action trumps rigorous intellectual investigation.

This attitude is no longer confined to the humanities and the social sciences; as climate change dogma indicates, it has also infected the so-called hard sciences.”

“It is a sad state of affairs. For a democracy to flourish, it needs also to be an open society in which a variety of viewpoints can jostle for public attention. When the term sceptic becomes a term of abuse, and there is willingness by many to demonise those who do not agree with them, then one must be concerned about the future of our democracy.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/scepticism-stems-from-a-worthy-spirit-of-inquiry/story-e6frg6zo-1225815743689

Scepticism stems from a worthy spirit of inquiry

Greg Melleuish The Australian January 04, 2010 12:00AM

WE are truly living in a strange world when the word sceptic, as in the term climate sceptic, has come to be used as an insult.

It used to be the case that there was something honourable about being a sceptic.

It meant one did not merely take things on trust; that one insisted on a rigorous examination of both evidence and argument before exercising one’s judgment on a particular matter.

Even then a good sceptic would recognise that this judgment was only provisional, as more evidence or a better explanation could emerge. Human beings are fallible creatures; none of us can claim to have a monopoly on truth. Be it physics, history or even climate science, there will always be competing explanations.

Attempts to impose a single model or explanation will always be doomed to failure. I recently read Ross Honeywell’s Lamarck’s Evolution, in which he discusses the career of Australian biologist Ted Steele. Steele has defied the Darwinian consensus and argues for a more Lamarckian view of evolution. Despite much opposition from within the scientific community, the evidence has emerged to support Steele’s position.

A democratic society can only flourish if it allows a range of ideas and views to thrive. Some of these ideas will turn out to be wrong; the price of openness is to allow both the sensible and the ratbags to have their say. Open societies work. Failed ideas can be discarded and replaced by better ones rather than congealing into dogmas and ideologies.

Scientific ideas, like historical interpretations, are never settled. There will always be challenges as new data comes to light.

What does it mean then when supporters of one interpretation of climate change claim that those who do not support them are deniers, not really scientists and therefore not worthy of a hearing?

It can only mean one thing. One group of people has attempted to turn its particular interpretation into a dogma that is beyond challenge. It has become a form of absolute truth. This is not a form of scientific activity but a political act.

It can be quite difficult to move from the messy world of science, its provisional explanations and need for revisions, to that of public policy in which governments take action. Definite action requires certainty. The science cannot be open to question.

There is a real conflict here between the provisional nature of scientific and academic activity and the need for governments to take clear-cut and definite action. They cannot be reconciled because those engaged in the world of ideas and science will always find qualifications and possible objections to any theory.

However, we now have a generation of scientists and academics with a desire to have an impact on the world. They are willing to create dogmas so governments will act according to their wishes. This represents the triumph of political over academic and scientific values.

I was struck recently by the similarity between the present debate on climate change and the referendum on the republic held in 1999. On that occasion I asked some of my academic colleagues their views on the effect of changing the wording of sections of the commonwealth Constitution. They told me they had not looked at the proposed changes. They would simply support the case for a republic on trust.

It seems to me that we are now in an analogous situation. Many people are supporting the case for climate change simply on trust. The scientists have spoken and they are happy to accept what they have said.

What is odd is that many of those who are willing to accept climate change dogma are well educated.

They have been educated at universities that are supposedly devoted to encouraging rigorous analysis and respect for a diversity of intellectual views.

Why are climate change advocates so willing to accept so much on authority and not use their critical faculties?

There is an obvious answer. Their education has taught them that the political is more important than the intellectual. Political action trumps rigorous intellectual investigation.

This attitude is no longer confined to the humanities and the social sciences; as climate change dogma indicates, it has also infected the so-called hard sciences.

It is a sad state of affairs. For a democracy to flourish, it needs also to be an open society in which a variety of viewpoints can jostle for public attention. When the term sceptic becomes a term of abuse, and there is willingness by many to demonise those who do not agree with them, then one must be concerned about the future of our democracy.

What is particularly worrying is that those who are leading this drive away from discussion and debate towards a passive acceptance of climate change dogma are often very well educated. What has happened to their spirit of open inquiry?

Greg Melleuish’s book The Power of Ideas is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing.

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