The Geek Manifesto reviewed

I just read the excellent review of Mark Henderson’s book, The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters by Professor Roger Pielke Jr, University of Colorado at Boulder, published through the Breakthrough Institute.

One particular paragraph I liked is:

In 2005 I led the preparation of a peer-reviewed paper on the science, impacts and economics of tropical cyclones which determined that current research was equivocal on a relationship between carbon dioxide and hurricanes (here in PDF). Further, we concluded that despite the reality of human-caused climate change, scientific certainty as to its influence on hurricanes would not be soon forthcoming. We subsequently learned via the released UEA emails that Phil Jones and Kevin Trenberth, two climate scientists that Henderson defends, conspired to prevent our review from appearing in the fourth assessment of the IPCC. Fortunately, in subsequent IPCC reports the scientific record has been corrected, and our view has held up extremely well.  However, As Jacob Bronowski once said, “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”

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19 Responses to The Geek Manifesto reviewed

  1. Abu Chowdah

    Judith, the link to the review doesn’t work.

  2. Biota

    Working link

    Good as usual from Pielke Junior. Science is (supposed to be) about integrity and objectivity. Politics is about deceipt. The two should remain separate.

  3. Alfonso

    If a mob of committed leftoid, ‘too many people on Gaia’ medical researchers developed a nano technology cancer eating 15 molecule machine that made cancer redundant….would they share?

    Handicapping research that doesn’t fit his worldview is a Jones trait.
    Is it common?

  4. Stephen J Gould wrote a book (The Panda’s Thumb?) which was devoted to how science is influenced by the prevailing cultural beliefs at the time. He covered the history of the term ‘Mongolism’ for Downs Syndrome and another about Phrenology, the detailed measurement of the head and how small head size was related to criminality, it isn’t.

    Unfortunately Mr Gould is no longer with us, I wonder what he would have made of Global Warming.

  5. Jim Rose

    Academics do not have a proud record of tolerance. Friedman and Samuelson had trouble getting a university job because they were Jewish.

    Friedman warned Robert Higgs that his libertarianism would harm him in the job market.

    In today’s publish-or-perish job market, writing unpopular articles is risky.

    I think it was Richard Tol who said many economists avoid working on the economics of climate change because of the political nastiness.

    David Card said he stopped working on minimum wages because it had cost him a lot of friends. People he had known for years since his first job. Card also did want not to spend the rest of his career defending papers he wrote in the early 1990s.

  6. Grey

    Forester he seemed to endorse in 1990, although perhaps he had potential to become a luke-warmer

    Science is (supposed to be) about integrity and objectivity. Politics is about deceipt. The two should remain separate.

    Politics is what humans do, scientists are human. Hence you will never take politics out of science, or stop science being used by politics.

  7. Biota

    hz…I am in receipt of your correction of ‘deceipt’ 🙂

  8. …and here’s me gritting my teeth to not correct the typo, Biota…
    Sometimes self restraint is a pain in the arse.

  9. “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”

    Good one, Einstein. That’s been the case for about 20,000 years. Ever since the first witch doctor had to think about which bone he was pointing at which miscreant, and why.

  10. Biota

    Don’t be shy on my account Winston!

  11. Aynsley Kellow

    ‘Politics is about deceipt.’

    No – it’s about the peaceful resolution of conflict. The resolution might come from the imposition of an authoritative solution; or it might be negotiated. Neither are of much help in science, since the authority might be wrong and a negotiation might result in an agreement that water boils at 270K, but that is wrong.

    Hence the value of liberalism in science and politics: as Popper argued. Good ideas and theories are those which are more robust to openness and contestation.

  12. hzhousewife

    lol Winston,
    sorry biota, I’m not usually VERY pedantic, but there wwasn’t anyone much around so I got “schoolmarmish.

    I would very much like scientists to stick to good basic science and not play around too much with shonky models.
    We have far too many crystal ball gazers, and politicians give them way too much credit.

  13. Biota

    Aynsley, pardon my scepticism, but:

    No carbon tax
    There will definitely be a surplus
    Australia Day riot
    NBN etc

  14. WhaleHunt Fun

    Don’t forget
    the Abbott is a misogynist
    the mining tax will make money
    the Labor party and Greens are not responsible for killing four young men in the pink batts debacle
    the Labor Party and Greens are not directly and gleefully responsible for drowning a thousand refugees
    the Labor Party and Greens are not cancelling free speech

  15. Aynsley Kellow

    Biota, WhaleHunt Fun:
    Lies are lies, spin is spin, and bullshit is bullshit. Politics – especially liberal democratic politics – exposes all this and has exposed all the examples you list. Autocracy suppresses rather than celebrates politics, and has governments dictating news paper editorials. Roxon, for example, is not a believer in the virtues of vigorous debate as being central to a lively democracy and believes ‘inappropriate views’ and those that give offence should be managed.

  16. Anthony

    In our current “public discourse” we have George Monbiot taking a pot shot at Tony Abbott, implying that in the face of the current heat wave Abbott must surely repent of his “denialism”. Yet what does Monbiot know about the influence of the Siberian High on the timing of the Indo-Australian monsoon? What…nothing? And yet that is likely to have had far greater immediate impact upon the causation of the present weather conditions on this continent than global warming. But the Left will never let reason get in the way of their moral indignation, especially when it is aimed at a conservative public figure.

  17. Jessie

    Jim Rose
    Academics do not have a proud record of tolerance.

    They are academics by title only not deed?

    You are suggesting bone pointers and removers of kidney fat without consent are scientists? Do you count perfecting fear and terror (and death) in the subject(s)?. Selective biological or psychological warfare?

    My observation of bone pointers and the like are that they operate under ‘politicians’ (leaders) often in tandem to their own private enterprise. Bit like pork barrelling; they control the group to ensure conformity. As some academics do when publishing poor research or misusing methodologies/data etc as read in the AGW debate for eg.

    I guess there is a science to the mineral content, weight and velocity of a stoning rock or watching your own fat being eaten.

  18. Jessie

    Judith you may be interested in the paper by Catherine Meshkin.
    Unchecked Data: A Tool for Political Corruption., Dec 2010 Engage, 11(3), The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies

    The Act was discussed on WUWT in this blog

    The introduction of the ABS Data Quality Framework c2009 and increased use of ABS/AIHW datasets with little questioning by policy makers bears some similarity to the US story.
    Also the Productivity Commissions ‘Reducing Red Tape’
    ?c2005 was premised on relief from regulatory and admin burdens. Presumably little questioning of the supporting data which informed the regulation/admin projects in the first instance?

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