Note to Sheril Kirshenbaum: "Scientists staying on message" is the problem, not the solution. - Evolution News & Views

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Note to Sheril Kirshenbaum: "Scientists staying on message" is the problem, not the solution.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, who blogs at Chris Mooney's blog Intersection, seems to have an better understanding of the ramifications of the ClimateGate fraud than Mooney does. This fraud will unravel the global warming hoax in short order (public opinion was moving against it even before ClimateGate), and it will likely lead to a civil war within science, pitting scientists who adhere to high standards of integrity against opportunists and ideologues who use science for their own purposes.

But Kirshenbaum gets the problem and the solution completely wrong.

Her post:

I've been quieter on the blog this week while in Texas--where I must say I'm impressed at both the hospitality and barbecue. But that doesn't mean I can escape the PR mess that is "ClimateGate." Out at a local pub last night, surrounded by cheering basketball fans and $2.25 pints, it wasn't long before a friendly new acquaintance inquired, "So what's all this stuff on tv about scientists and data?"

I continue to believe that despite however many editorials are published in academic journals, however many science journalists come forward playing defense, and no matter how many scientists calmly (or not so calmly) explain that this email kerfuffle probably only serves to demonstrate that scientists are people too, the damage has been done. The entire episode is an unfortunate case study of our increasingly Unscientific America--an example of how the media distorts a story, partisanship spins the details to suit a particular agenda, and scientists are ill-equipped to manage the PR fallout.

I am saddened to observe the state of broad perception of climate science, but not surprised. Further, this is not "the public's" fault. It's up to us in the scientific community to figure out how to stay on message. If we aren't prepared to speak up for ourselves in a united voice about the state of the planet, others with less noble intentions will. And we won't like the result. [emphasis mine]

Kirshenbaum has it exactly wrong. Real scientists don't "stay on message." Real scientists don't have a "message." Politicians and ideologues and science journalists have "messages," and they have seduced many scientists to betray their science and "speak up in a united voice." Science is the study of nature--science follows the evidence, wherever is leads. Real scientists are inveterate skeptics. Unanimity and "messages" are the antithesis of science.

A large part of the blame for this debacle rests with ideologues like Kirshenbaum and Mooney who have perverted science with their hard-left ideology. They have damaged science in ways that scientists haven't even begun to comprehend.

Science-journalists-with-an-agenda are toxic to science, because agenda-driven polemics are the antithesis of science. Within the scientific community only fools and opportunists collaborate with polemicists. Unfortunately, that may be a very large segment of the scientific community.

If scientists with integrity really begin to push back against the polemicists, it could get very ugly. Science-civil-war ugly. But the current state of science--the relinquishment of scientific integrity to advance political agendas--is much much uglier. If the politicization of science continues apace, good scientists will be driven out, and all of science will become politics, pursued by other means.


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