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Do you think that there is something in these emails that is less aggressive than what would surface had any other controversial field's private correspondence been outed?

Would even cosmology or evolutionary biology, say, prove "faultless" if hit with similar exposures? At the core of this IMHO, lies the fact that science goes to great pains to project an image of detached impartiality in its inner workings, while the reality is that, as in any other human endeavour, it is a product of great and often violent clash of egos, personalities, convictions and interests. To pretend otherwise, in climate science, quantum mechanics, entomology, or surface chemistry is inviting public disenchantment. This holds even more strongly for issues that are politicized. Think "heritability of intelligence". Think "peak oil".

The amazing thing is that despite all this egregious human fallibility and occasional pettiness, science works. I think that this is important to stress especially since the forces of obscurantism, especially in the US, will use such incidents not just to slander climate science, but Science in general. In this context the answer to the "scandal" is "yeah people occasionally behave badly (although I personally would protest strongly to my being judged publicly on the base of private, often casual, email exchanges), but the damn system works".

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Nov 24th, 2009 at 08:35:28 AM EST
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