Friday, August 13, 2010

Climate Conspiracy, Part II

Today's blog follows up on the Climate Conspiracy blog posted last week.  It was based on two conversations I had with a clear climate denialist.  The first entry details a discussion where the other party has direct evidence of bias in funding for climate research... that is, until I call him on it.

Today I'll provide another example.  It is interesting to note the climate denialists follow the same exact scheme as those that deny evolution or the safety of GMO food.  There always is a conspiracy, chocked full of secrets.  There are threats and intimidation, nameless figures and warped senses of victimization.

This is the second part of my discussion with James McGaha.  Again, we had a very nice conversation where I did a lot more listening than talking.  It was a private conversation, he had no idea that I'd write here about it (neither did I), but it is a good case for understanding science denialism.

During the conversation he told me that he knew someone, that must remain nameless, that has concrete evidence that will "blow the lid off of the global warming nonsense".  This alleged figure is a scientist and has this data, data that will contradict the findings of thousands of independent laboratories worldwide, upending data generated over the last three decades.

"Why doesn't he publish it, say in Science or Nature", I said.  Certainly concrete evidence that refutes a well established scientific consensus would be publishable in the best journals.

McGaha claimed that he would publish it, but is afraid of the intimidation that will come to him if he published work that does not agree with the scientific consensus.

Of course I vehemently disagreed, as top-tier journals are where you place the best data that overturn accepted paradigms.  I then had a stellar idea.

"Ask him to write up his data into a paper for Science, then send it to me.  I'll submit it with my name on it," I said.   "I'm a scientist, I can submit that work, then I'll deal with the intimidation (said with mocking sarcasm)."

It was the perfect plan. If this scientist has the data and is just afraid, then give it to a scientist that isn't.  Then when I show up in a shallow grave with a jumbo thermometer up my heiney and a Gore-Lieberman sticker across my forehead, then they can show the world how evil the conspiracy is.  If his conclusive work gets published, then he has accomplished the mission, we change the name on the report from mine to his, and he gets a Nobel Prize, or at the very least a lifetime of interviews on Fox News

Of course, my offer fell on deaf ears, probably because there is no shadowy scientist and equally vacant solid data.

It is a lot like those that cry foul in discussions of evolution.  There always are some alleged scientists that are not allowed to publish their data that prove creation or that the earth is 6000 years old.  They are afraid of intimidation or losing status or their job.  They claim a great conspiracy to suppress the real data.

In the end, there's science and there's non-science.  If we have real data, we publish it.  Real data stand up to scrutiny and are reproducible.  Real data always win.  That's why every nut living in denial of real science has to resort to the conspiracy and intimidation story, because as long as the real data are suppressed and hidden, then they don't have to ever be tested, reproduced or independently verified.

So that was my conversation with a science denialist.  We concluded by me saying, "Science is a put-up-or-shut-up business. If you have the data, show the data, confirm and retest the data, and change the way we think.... that is the way science works."

A Response to Carey Gillam