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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Friday, September 16, 2011

Royal Society President calls for Politicization of Science

Timothy Birdnow

When the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit got in hot water after their e-mail accounts were hacked and it became evident that they were fudging data and manipulating peer review, there were several quick "independent" investigations by various friendly groups to stop the bleeding. One of these was the Royal Society, which appointed Lord Oxburgh to conduct a fair hearing and announce CRU blameless, sort of a reverse Stalinist show trial (you will have a fair trial after which you will be shot). The Royal Society provided all of the witnesses.

And it WAS a whitewash, as Ross McKitrick proves.

According to McKitrick:

"The Committee did not issue a call for evidence. They claimed that the 11 papers they selected for
examination were chosen because they “cover a period of more than twenty years and were selected on
the advice of the Royal Society.” (Report paragraph 3). UK blogger Andrew Montford inquired who at
the Royal Society advised on the selection. In response, the Royal Society would only state that they
recommended the Committee have access to “any and all papers” they needed, but would not confirm the
claim that they had selected the 11 papers specifically.8 It later emerged that the Royal Society did not
provide any meaningful advice on the selection of papers. The actual chronology of their selection was
unearthed through FOIA requests.


(text of emails posted at
That is the extent of the consultation behind the claim of the Inquiry that the papers were selected “on the advice of the Royal Society.” It is more accurate to say that the list of papers to be studied by the
“independent” inquiry was drawn up by the UEA itself, and within about 20 minutes was rubber-stamped
by two members of the Royal Society, both of whom cautioned that they did not have the proper
expertise to do so. At no time was the list subject to any extensive examination by members of the Royal
Society itself.

As for the 11 papers themselves, they were never ones that have been controversial (see The list also omitted the paleoclimate papers that had
been subject to controversy, such as the Tornetrask and Yamal papers by Keith Briffa, and all the
‘hockey stick’-related paleoclimate papers from CRU. By focusing only on journal articles, the Oxburgh
panel avoided the key question of whether CRU staff had suppressed uncertainties in WMO and IPCC

End excerpts.

There were no public hearings, CRU staff were interviewed privately, no notes were taken, and no critics were present at any meetings.

The Oxburgh report was billed as a review of the science, yet Oxburgh admitted he did not have the expertise, and was not allowed time to review the science if he had. Essentially, the Royal Society pushed him to ask people "did you do it" and when they said no accept that as the truth.

At any rate, the Royal Society has been a tool for the Gang Green for some time.

Now, under the tutelage of Paul Nurse, they have decided to become political.

Consider this piece by Nurse at New Scientist.

After charicaturing the positions of Republicans like Rick Perry in the most onerous way, Nurse gives us this glimpse into what he thinks science should be doing:

"You would probably be even more disturbed to be told that these are the opinions expressed by potential Republican candidates for the US presidential nomination (see "Science rears its head in Republican debates"). It's alarming that a country which leads the world in science - the home of Benjamin Franklin, Richard Feynman and Jim Watson - might be turning its back on science. How can this be happening? What can be done?

One problem is treating scientific discussion as if it were political debate. When some politicians try to sway public opinion, they employ the tricks of the debating chamber: cherry-picking data, ignoring the consensus opinions of experts, adept use of a sneer or a misplaced comparison, reliance on the power of rhetoric rather than argument. They can often get away with this because the media rely too much on confrontational debate in place of reasoned discussion.

It is essential, in public issues, to separate science from politics and ideology. Get the science right first, then discuss the political implications. We scientists also need to work harder at discussing the issues better and more fully in the public arena, clearly identifying what we know and admitting what we don't know.

Another concern is science teaching in schools. Is it good enough to produce citizens able to cope with public discussions about science? We have to ensure that science is being taught in schools - not pseudoscience. With the rise of free and faith schools and the academies in the UK, measures need to be put in place to safeguard science classes. This has been difficult to maintain particularly in the US.

We need to emphasise why the scientific process is such a reliable generator of knowledge - with its respect for evidence, for scepticism, for consistency of approach, for the constant testing of ideas. Everyone should know and understand why the processes that lead to astronomy are more reliable than those that lead to astrology.

Finally, scientific leaders have a responsibility to expose the bunkum. We scientists have not always been proactive about this. We need to be vigilant about what is being said in the public arena. We need to be vigilant about what politicians are publicising about science and take them on when necessary. At elections, scientists should ensure that science is on the agenda and nonsense is exposed. If that nonsense is extreme enough then the response should be very public."

End excerpt.

First, who has been doing the cherry-picking? Hockey fan Michael Mann used ignored numerous trees in his Yaroslav reconstruction of temperatures prior to 1900 because they did not show the warming he wanted. And he grafted 20th century thermometer readings onto his tree ring proxies as if they were the same thing ("Mike's Nature trick in the Climategate e-mail parlance).
He also used just two shallows to claim that sea level has been rising along the North Carolina coast.

The cherry picking seems to be happening from the other side.

And two things about that concensus opinion of experts: 1.This "concensus" only exists if the question is sufficiently broad ie. "do you believe the globe has warmed during the twentieth century and do you believe Man may play a part in it". The urban heat island effect is an example of man playing a part.
2.Science is about challenging the orthodoxy, not what everyone believes. Everyone believed the sun revolved around the Earth, too, at one time.

Parts of this is admirable, yet Nurse's side does not practice what they preach; they refuse to give "skeptics" a fair hearing, going so far as to force editors to resign to prevent alternative views from being validated in scientific publications.

But what Nurse is calling for is the active intervention by "scientists" (and by that he means people who agree with him) in the political process and in the schools. Well, if you intend to enter into the political arena (and, remember, most of these people are living off public funds) you had better be prepared to fight the political battles. No free ride if you do.

The fact is, climate science was a backwater until global warming came along, and now it is a multi-billion dollar industry, heavily funded by taxpayers. If you are taking taxpayer money you do not have the right to:

"be vigilant about what is being said in the public arena. We need to be vigilant about what politicians are publicising about science and take them on when necessary. At elections, scientists should ensure that science is on the agenda and nonsense is exposed. If that nonsense is extreme enough then the response should be very public."

You gave up that right when you made your deal with the devil.

In point of fact, your whole climate change industry is funded for a reason; didn't it ever occur to you that politicians were awfully eager to give you money? It would seem to be more profitable to support Exxon Mobile and the petrofuel industry, yet politicians support YOU. Now why is that?

Because you are the ticket to power over the public, to more tax dollars, to everything those who seek to control their fellows would want. You are bought and paid for, Nurse!

And we will not shut up, no matter how much you may try to silence us. You see, we actually believe in the Truth. You demand our silence while demand the right to shout as loudly as you please. You are a hypocrit, Paul Nurse.

Your gatekeeper days are over; with the internet it is now possible for both sides of any discussion to be presented. Gone are the days when the big science journals could kill the work of dissenters.

The cork has been popped, and it's not going back into the bottle.

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