It’s hard to imagine a more thoroughly ignorant statement than this:
“The discipline of science is one where the facts, once they are peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals, are fixed. They’re not open to interpretation, or at least not much.”
That’s the opinion of Jeffrey Kluger and Justin Worland, writing in “How a war on science could hurt the U.S.—and its citizens.” in Time magazine.
The truth, of course, for these two apparent neophytes to science, is quite the opposite.
As I documented in my article “If Peer Review Were a Drug, It Wouldn’t Get on the Market,” failures in peer review are frequent across all the divisions of science—including climate science. One of the “Three Great Legacies of of Climategate” is that “pal-to-pal” or “peer-to-peer” review might be replacing peer review as the best means of quality control in scholarly publishing.
As Drummond Rennie, Deputy Editor of the Journal Of the American Medical Association and intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review that have been held every four years since 1989, has said, “If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market,” and went on to say, “Peer review would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its flaws.” In fact, there’s no evidence the peer review improves the quality of published research.
In a seminal article “Saving Science” in The New Atlantis last spring, Daniel Sarewitz described the wide and deep corruptions of scientific process evident in today’s world. The rate of retractions of scientific papers is rising. Scientific fraud is widespread and growing.
Nonetheless, in their blissful ignorance of the world of real science, Kluger and Worland claim that the Trump Administration, with newly confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as prosecutors’ Exhibit A, is conducting a “war on science” because it doesn’t toe the line on global warming (among other things).
Anthony Sadar, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and a Contributing Writer of The Cornwall Alliance, takes them to task in a rebuttal in the Washington Times:
As demonstrated by the confirmation hearings of Scott Pruitt for new Environmental Protection Agency chief, all-out war is being waged against the Trump administration by leftists who believe science is under attack from the evil empire.
Belief that this new administration puts science in jeopardy is not surprising given the fact that so many are confused about what science is, how it is practiced, and what it can tell us about the future.
The popular press adds to the confusion about science. Take the Feb. 13 issue of Time magazine, for example. In an article titled “How a war on science could hurt the U.S. — and its citizens,” the authors open with this assessment of science: “The discipline of science is one where the facts, once they are peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals, are fixed. They’re not open to interpretation, or at least not much.”
There are numerous problems with this confused understanding of science. Regardless, the authors continue by contrasting “science” with politics “in which nearly everything can be negotiated. But as the first days of the Trump administration have shown, many of those seemingly settled scientific facts — the ones that have informed countless policies from previous U.S. administrations — are once more up for debate.”Science can be defined at its most basic level as “knowledge,” or what we think we know about a given topic. Since absolute truth on a subject is elusive, science is tentative, adjusted as additional information is accumulated through more research and wider perspective and, yes, even debate.
In practice, science can certainly be influenced by politics or, essentially, ideology. Those on the left apparently do not see a leftist ideology permeating certain areas of contemporary scientific practice and so equate scientific conclusions that endorse their beliefs as being absolutely irrefutable.
This blinkered perception manifests itself as “settled science” and is apparent in climate change science, and especially the power of this science to ascertain Earth’s future climate.
Accurate prediction is one of the biggest challenges in scientific practice, and indeed an accurate prediction for the right reasons is one of the conditions for a scientific assertion to be correct.
Here’s where climate science has fallen woefully short in recent decades. … [Click here to read the rest.]
Featured image “Florida Climate Change Tourism” courtesy of Mike Licht, Flickr Creative Commons.