2.08.2010

A Bossy and Power-hungry Lot

James Lakely at Breitbart's BigGovernment writes up some of the proceedings at recent environmental conference (Keith Lockitch presented as one of a small minority of "deniers"). In such a conference, it seems that views in contrast to the accepted wisdom were not well received:
The 13th Annual Energy & Environment Conference, held in Phoenix Feb. 1-3, isn’t the sort of place where global warming “deniers” are exactly welcome. In fact, by my observations, the skeptical caucus at the event consisted entirely of: James M. Taylor, a senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute; Keith Lockitch, a fellow of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights; and me. All the other attendees spent their time discussing how the U.S. government — or, even better, a “global government” — needs to compel us all to live “greener” lives through schemes like cap-and-trade. Environmentalists are a bossy and power-hungry lot. [links dropped, bold added]
The surprise of Lakely's post is his description of the speech of one William Sprigg, prominent global warming proponet, who shockingly told the gathered scientists that they should actually act like scientists. Lakely wrote:

In his 24-minute lecture, Sprigg also:

  • warned of a growing perception that “the IPCC is biased, conflicted, [and] pushing political agendas.”;
  • called for a new climate research agency supported not entirely by the government, but in conjunction with the private sector;
  • and declared: “We need to stick to our scientific principles,” and “improve our peer preview process, and expand the stakeholders’ role to keep us all honest.”
Recalling the parallels to climate science discussed in previous posts about nutrition science, here is a relevant quote from Good Calories, Bad Calories, in which Taubes discusses Richard Feynman (p. 82-82):
In 1964, when the physicist Richard Feynman presented what would become a renowned series of lectures at Cornell University, he observed that it was a natural condition of scientists to be biased or prejudiced toward their beliefs. That bias, Feynman said, would ultimately make no difference, "because if your bias is wrong a perpetual accumulation of experiments will perpetually annoy you until they cannot be disregarded any longer." They could be disregarded, he said, only if "you are absolutely sure ahead of time" what the answer must be.
The other way the perpetually annoying accumulation of evidence could be disregarded is if you're in the "bossy and power-hungry lot" and your need for funding and desire for prestige and acceptance outweighs your adherence to scientific method, reason, and reality.

4 comments:

Beth said...

Did you know you can access those Feynman lectures (thanks to Microsoft) here?

mtnrunner2 said...

I'm glad to hear Dr. Sprigg made such statements, and it probably speaks to his scientific integrity, but talk about an uphill battle. The only real answer, which I doubt many such scientists would support, is to end government funding of science once and for all.

So, his statement has all the moral force of Robert Stadler's fictional last-minute indignation during the Project X demonstration!

C. August said...

Beth, thanks. I checked and those are some amazing resources. I'll go back when I have more time to invest in watching them.

Mtn., that's a great comparison to Stadler. I wonder if Sprigg's new found concern for the scientific method is rooted deeper in his realization that the entire field is about to be made a laughingstock. If that happens, then all of their reputations are in for it, so to save them he needs to convince everyone to act like they care about evidence.

Moataz said...

the world be a much better place if people accepted moral responsibility for their actions- be them successes or failures- and respected the individual liberties/rights of its citizens. Individual moral sovereignty. I would have more respect for those greens if they tried to reason, using science, on why green alternatives are better.