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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Spirit of Faction

The Guardian reports that a third independent review has cleared the "Climategate" scientists of any scientific malpractice: '"We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the CRU and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it," the review concluded.'

However, I guarantee that we will still hear, for years, about the "fact" that climate scientists were "exposed" "faking data," just like similar people will endlessly repeat that Ahmadinejad said "Israel must be wiped off the map" years after it was demonstrated that he never said any such thing, or people will mindlessly repeat that Honduran President Zelaya's ouster was "constitutional" because they heard a pundit they like make that claim.

The spirit of faction is stronger than the spirit of truth.

UPDATE: A commenter notes that, while The Guardian article seems to be about the third report, it's actually mostly about the first two -- the third is still to come.

10 comments:

  1. To me, the Guardian article seems a bit confusing. While the sub-title refers to the new Muir report, the remainder of the report deals with the existing Commons and Oxburgh reports. In fact, it would appear that the contents of the Russell report were unknown to the Guardian author at the time of writing.

    The Russell report may well support the UEA, but that's not what the Guardian article says.

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  2. Crosbie, you are correct. At first glance, it reads like the third report is also clearing the scientists of the more serious charges, but once you carefully sort through the who's who, it's really the first two reports clearing them. My mistake.

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  3. I get an impression that the Guardian writer is well aware of the contents of the new report, but of course, is unable to say so.

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  4. Do the reports make any difference, as far as the spirit of truth is concerned? It seems to me the spirit of faction long since did its work in trying to create a 'fact' out of a messy set of sources which require much judgement to interpret. As you say, once created, such a 'fact' will circulate indefinitely. We now have a new 'fact' that the UEA's "rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt", which will circulate alongside it in perpetuity.

    Is there some deep relation between 'fact' and 'faction'? I can't figure it out.

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  5. Not sure what you are after here, Crosbie.

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  6. Ever since reading Feynman's account of the Rogers Commission I haven't been able to put much stock in the sort of "independent reports" mentioned in The Guardian article.

    Having read some of the CRU emails, I have to say that while it would be going too far to accuse CRU of having faked data, the emails do serve to at least partially undercut the standard theory on climate change (and I say that as someone who, prior to the release of the emails, thought skepticism about global warming was just ignorant).

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  7. Gene, I read until the part where it said "the House of Commons science and technology select committee." Are you kidding me?

    I don't know if you followed my "coverage" of this at Free Advice; I was trying to be objective and clarify things. E.g. the "hide the decline" line isn't the smoking gun that the anti-Al Gore people think it is.

    But I can't believe that because a government body clears scientists of wrongdoing, you are taking that as confirmation from "independent" experts.

    Of course I can't even use an analogy and say, "I bet you believe the Warren Report, right?" because you already said you did.

    Gene, can you state your overall view of credibility? E.g. do you think a random statement from a government official is more likely to be true than a random statement from a libertarian? (I'm not kidding.)

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  8. "E.g. do you think a random statement from a government official is more likely to be true than a random statement from a libertarian?"

    Bob, do you think a random statement from a king crab fisherman is more likely to be true than a random statement from an Albanian?

    (I.e., the fact you think you have asked a meaningful question is symptomatic of the problem also evidenced in your question, "Are you kidding me?")

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  9. Do you think Sadam had weapons of mass destruction? A trusted government official (Powell) has assured us that he did.

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  10. Bestquest, you have made a very telling claim against my contention that all government officials must always be believed in all circumstances. A claim which I made... hmmm, wait a second! I never did make such a claim. Which makes the above... another idiotic comment by bestquest having nothing to do with what's being discussed. Which is why his comments don't get posted anymore. (This one was for illustrative purposes.)

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