Tag Archives | Climategate

“Climategate” and the Social Validation of Knowledge

Recent evidence that prominent climate scientists have tried to intimidate academic journals into not publishing papers submitted by “climate change” skeptics have caused a major brouhaha in the ongoing political battle over global warming. At least some of the scientists in question certainly seem to have put ideology above the search for truth. The effort to keep skeptical articles out of academic journals also raises the issue of whether the academic “consensus” supporting global warming theory is genuine, or a product of systematic exclusion of dissenting voices.

I lack relevant scientific expertise on global warming, so I don’t have anything useful to say about the scientific issues involved. The question I want to address is what impact these revelations should have on our views of the global warming issue. If, unlike me, you have enough expertise in climate science to assess the scientific literature for yourself, I don’t think “Climategate” should have any impact on your views at all. You can read the mainstream literature, as well as the skeptics’ writings (which certainly exist in print, even if the Climategate culprits have kept some of them out of peer-reviewed journals) and make an informed decision for yourself.

Most of us, however, lack expertise on climate issues. And our knowledge of complex issues we don’t have personal expertise on is largely based on social validation. For example, I think that Einsteinian physics is generally more correct than Newtonian physics, even though I know very little about either. Why? Because that’s the overwhelming consensus of professional physicists, and I have no reason to believe that their conclusions should be discounted as biased or otherwise driven by considerations other than truth-seeking. My views of climate science were (and are) based on similar considerations. I thought that global warming was probably a genuine […]

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