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First, sorry for replying with big intervals, I am currently traveling around...


fame and attention). Noting that many other branches of physics, at present and over the years, have had far greater funding and political attention lavished upon them (without notably impairing the quality of their scientific output - although a case can probably be made that their cost-effectiveness has dropped) is thus a relevant objection.

That is why my first post on this thread was about making a separation between hard-sciences (where no simplifications at all are made in order to study nature - this is my personal definition) and "other sciences" (part of physics, some of chemistry falls here). "Other sciences" is actually almost everything else (I will get back to this).


Ph.d. students in physics do not generally concern themselves with funding, which was what you were talking about. They have their funding, at least for

Oh yes they do: The are concerned about the job that they will get AFTER their PhD ends. You see, myself and all the PhD students that I know of are precisely in the situation you describe (In my case I am funded until 2011), and trust me, we talk and think about the future AFTER. And our future (getting a tenure, or at least a post-doc) depends on our ability to publish.


Ah, ah, ah, that's not what I said. I said that singling out climate science as particularly - or even uniquely - culpable in this game is a dishonest rhetorical slight of hand.

I am not singling out climate science at all, I think I started by saying that the use of computational models everywhere above simple chemistry are to be not trusted in predicting the future (they have other uses).
Also, regarding the moral of the scientific game, I am not singling out climate scientists at all (apologies if that was understood from my words). I am also not trying to be moralistic. I just want to remind that scientists are human beings and thus prone to human issues (they need to eat, they like recognition, etc)


It is, to be blunt, reminiscent of the Creationist trick of pointing out that Evolution is a theory and as thus should be approached with an open mind and critically considered. (Which is, of course, true in the same sense and to the same extent that the theory of gravity should also be approached with an open mind and critically considered.)

There is a big difference between gravity and evolution. And that is one of my points - hard-science versus soft science. Comparing gravity with evolution is like comparing apples to potatoes, makes little sense.
Don't take me wrong, I am a strong supporter of evolution (been involved in the organization of several courses, attended workshops on the subject, published papers), but the scientific approach is to doubt and criticize. Of course creationists take a very good initial approach to then sell utter untestable bullshit on top. But their core argument is sound. Evolution is a theory and the correct intellectual stance is to try to challenge it (not in the way they do it).

Anyway and let me be provocative, it seems that ET is quite full of science fundamentalists (a contradiction in terms - there seems to be a need by some to have unquestionable truths in some form), but let me ask you this:
In the field of economics (which I don't know that much) the mainstream seems to be some form of neoconservativism (the only way to get published in top journals?). More, should we talk about computational models and quantitative finance (maybe in the light of current events)? Economics is peer reviewed like everything else we talked about here (and with lots of cool math authority like game theory and such), but do you take it as "the word"?

This is not a discourse against reason (it is the precise opposite: never forfeit your critical abilities in front of an authoritarian argument), this is just a simple reminder that science is made by humans and that science touches many ares for which it is impossible to have (near)perfect models of reality and as such there is lots of space for peer-reviewed rhetorics and human "imperfections" to creep in.

The reason that I am in the science business, is that, in spite of these and many other flaws, it still is the best path I know of to understand nature. But if you are searching for a emotional replacement for the "perfection and authority of god", then this is not place.

Finally I would like to reiterate that I have no opinion on climate change (never spent much time studying the subject, I must admit). I just totally distrust computational modeling to predict the future of anything bigger than a molecule.

by t-------------- on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 11:44:20 AM EST
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