Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
"But really I think it goes like this in most cases: bright kid out of undergrad/master is invited to do PhD. Comes from middle/upper-middle class, most of the time. Never really had much contact with the "world" at large. Life as been mostly inside the University, where ego-mania and small, closed groups are the norm. These sets of cultural background, where an "holistic" (broad) view of the world rarely exists. Publishing papers, conferences, fighting for grant/tenure is ALL YOU KNOW."

Sure, that is a common case. And if that person foolishly decides to get into climate research, and does some sort of experiment or develops a model or whatever, and the results show X, but X is not in agreement with his or her religious views, then what?

There is certainly the ego-mania, backstabbing, closed cultural group, etc. in play. But never-the-less, if somebody can come up with an experiment or data or observation or whatever that is NOT in accordance with the climate change model, they would still, in my experience, be listened to. Argued with, made fun of, ostracized, met with dead silence after their presentation at their society meeting. The problem is, such experiments aren't showing up. And with the whole thing so politicized now, if anybody COULD come up with some decent data, there are plenty of funding sources, publishing sources, etc. to get the word out.

It's like trying to prove that the earth is the center of the universe. After a while it gets to the point where it becomes clear that you just can't do it, even with the backing of the entire establishment.

by asdf on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 05:22:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With some things in predicative science (again I am not talking about climate in particular, it  is not my speciality), you cannot really devise an experiment to prove wrongness. Soft science.

Take, for instance, the marvelous papers that predict malaria elimination in 4 years. How could you derive an experience to rule them out? And even if you rule a certain model out. Immediately people would come up with a new one.

And even if a paper is proven wrong (papers with 4 years lifespan will suffer that), authors will say something did not happen has expected and that is the reason (poverty disease predicative modeling is sometimes disturbed by "minor" things like civil wars, mass starvations and so on).

I could say more, but I would have to kill you ;) . If we ever met, I can take some interesting evidence with me. For climate I only know stories second-hand, but for other areas I can dig deep and talk first-person.

by t-------------- on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 05:39:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we really have to take seriously tiagoantao's statement that the comments are not directed specifically at climate science but at "predictive sciences" in general. Nomad's post inherently brings up problems with the way science is currently being done and tiagoantao's comments seem to be a "second" for the reality of those problems from the perspective of another field. The fact that opponents of scientific inquiry will point to problems with science is not, IMO, justification for the scientific community to deny the existence of those problems.

And I entirely agree with asdf's assertion regarding the relative integrity between the "climate science" crowd and the climate change denier crowd. The climate change deniers do tend to show similarities to the "creation science" crowd. This is the basis for my concern about the lawsuit cited above where assertion of a "belief" in the imminent danger from climate change is defended as a "philosophy of life".  Let us hope that we don't get to the point of having parity in nutcase affiliation.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 10:58:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The fact that opponents of scientific inquiry will point to problems with science is not, IMO, justification for the scientific community to deny the existence of those problems.

WTF? It is the exact opposite! I strongly believe in scientific inquiry (definition of which remains to be done)! What I am suggesting is that what is done in some "places of science" as very little to do with openness, enlightenment, sound reasoning and decent morality.

The problem is that in many research centres "scientific inquiry" become just a side.

To make it very clear: I am a strong believer in science. The current scientific environment (high competition, need to maximize one's impact at any cost) is anathema for good science. The cultural harm to the scientific community is done and it will take some time to reverse, if at all.

If you want to do good science, go to your garage. Avoid most universities and such. That is the drama. That is what stands to be corrected.

And blindly believing in whatever is done at universities (the basis of religious mentality is also blind faith), is not helping to starting cleaning up the mess.

by t-------------- on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 06:42:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on where you go. I've seen a couple of European physics departments from the inside, and while you have a lot of mutual back-scratching, office politics, sharp knives and mafias, it does not strike me as crippling.

Politics is an inescapable fact of life in any organisation with more than a couple of handfuls of people and a lifetime of more than a few days. I see no serious evidence that it's any worse in physics than in other communities of similar size.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 10:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see no serious evidence that it's any worse in physics than in other communities of similar size.

From what I hear Astrophysics is pretty bad.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 10:40:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll have to ask a friend of mine who does an astro ph.d.

My impression is that in Copenhagen the experimental high-energy particle people hold the dubious distinction of being the most nepotistic department. And have held that trophy for at least a generation and a half by now.

Fortunately, it's not like particle physics is very important in the greater scheme of things.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 10:55:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao
WTF? It is the exact opposite! I strongly believe in scientific inquiry (definition of which remains to be done)!

That was certainly my perception but I was concerned that this might be getting lost in the discussion. (That might have been a misperception.)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 11:42:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is, 'soft' not 'hard' sciences.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 07:27:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series