The Global Mail has ceased operations.
Technology
<p>Fiona Katauskas</p>

Fiona Katauskas

Who Would Trust a Scientist These Days?

We have more information about science than ever before, but does that make us all experts? Like the good scientist he is, Ian Chubb — Australia's chief scientist — is ready to argue the toss.


"Science," Australia's chief scientist Professor Ian Chubb tells The Global Mail, "is represented by scientists who are experts, scientists who are not experts and people who aren't scientists".

Chubb makes this point at the end of June, as the country's richest woman, seeking board seats with her growing stake in Fairfax Media, has publicly argued that its newspapers have pursued an ideological line on the issue of climate change. But Gina Rinehart's accusation is just one in the miasma of public science today, where scientific facts are too often seen as a means of political point-scoring. Lord Christopher Monkton has notably urged climate change sceptics to buy a news outlet to influence the way the issue is reported.  In medical research, self-appointed experts continually urge against vaccination despite overwhelming scientific research backing up the case to immunise children against disease.

“In a lot of cases… scientists are saying something that that particular person doesn’t like hearing. So they say the reason for that is that it’s politicised.”

There's a lot of mistrust of the role of science today, and Chubb says that's because those who don't want to accept a scientific finding — or whose interests are damaged by it — aim to neutralise it by politicising it.

"A lot of people are constantly told that [science] is politicised… but what that means in a lot of cases is that scientists are saying something that that particular person doesn't like hearing.

"So they say the reason for that is that it's politicised — and scientists are telling people simply what they want to hear. Well, I think that's a serious allegation and I don't think you can make it without evidence," Chubb says.

<p>Alan Pourritt/AAP</p>

Alan Pourritt/AAP

Professor Ian Chubb

"I'm not suggesting scientists are not human beings. The frailties of the human condition appear in scientists as they appear elsewhere in the population, but I do think to make allegations and presumptions about scientists' motivations because they're mounting an argument or interpreting evidence in a way you don't like is not a very useful approach… unless you're trying to divert attention from what the scientist might be saying."

Chubb was for 10 years the Vice Chancellor of one of Australia's leading research universities, the Australian National University, and has worked for more than 30 years in academic scholarship and administration. He thinks the bigger problem is that science isn't reaching people the way that it needs to.

"You've got to explain to the public what the options are and why you draw the conclusions that you draw, but I think it's particularly important that the experts, the people who have spent 20 or 30 years studying a subject are heard.

"People who come along who have a different view are entitled to have that view put out there, but I think you balance off the weight you give to that view by the relevant expertise of the people in the debate, and not every opinion is equally valuable when you're trying to discuss a very complex matter," he says.

Chubb is concerned that media reports do not distinguish enough between scientists who specialise in a certain field, and those who are not specialists yet still offer their opinion on it.

As medicine is specialised, he points out, other science fields are also highly specialised — but many of the loudest opposition voices in areas of contentious research, notably climate change, aren't specialists.

<p>Illustration by Fiona Katauskas</p>

Illustration by Fiona Katauskas

"If I fell over and broke my leg walking down the stairs and an obstetrician and an orthopedic surgeon came to look at me at the same time, I know which opinion I'd be most interested in," Chubb says.

The broader issue concerning Chubb is the erosion of the public standing of scientific consensus.

Historically the relationship between scientists, their research and the broader public has been complex and fraught. Ideas that chafe against the general understanding of the day are resisted. Theories proved over time, through rigorous, peer-reviewed research to be wrong, continue to be perpetuated and believed.

In 2005 Australian scientists Steve McIlwaine and An Nguyen presented a paper on science, journalism, democracy and technology at a journalism education conference in Queensland.

"In a new era of scientific development and, to an extent never before experienced, lay publics in an increasingly democratic world are finding themselves confronted by challenges for which the democratic system was never intended and has not evolved to handle," their paper says.

“Experiments show that we first seek out information that supports our existing positions and dismiss and ignore information that goes against them… when we adopt a position on anything we are very reluctant to give it up – even in the face of solid evidence.”

Seven years on there is little to suggest the divide between public knowledge and scientific research has narrowed.

In May 2012 United States polling company Gallup polled more than 1,000 Americans on their views on evolution. The results show 46 per cent believe the creationist view that God "created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years".

In Australia 51 per cent of high school students took a science subject to Year 12 in 2010, down from 20 years ago, when more than 90 per cent of students did so. With a lack of formal scientific knowledge in the community, the job of selling scientific findings becomes more difficult.

And there's another factor: As formal training in the sciences has waned, the internet has exploded, putting knowledge and information within reach — often alongside misinformation or outdated research.

"I think there's a lot more science in the public domain than there used to be. When I was growing up of course there were reports on science… but in general terms I think it was much less in the public domain," Chubb says.

<p>Lorna Sim/Science &amp; Technology Australia</p>

Lorna Sim/Science & Technology Australia

Science Meets Parliament 2011

But what's available isn't always reliable.

"The blogosphere has a lot more non-experts in it than it's got experts. When experts critique your work, you listen to it. When someone who just happens to not like your conclusions has a whack at you, then I think you're entitled to ignore it," Chubb says.

"You would really hope that they were considered opinions that are put forward and not some florid expose of indiscretions — there's a lot of the latter and there is some of the former, if we're talking about climate science, but also most aspects of complicated science."

Perhaps the most famous example of scientific research being deliberately obscured by vested interests is the development of understanding about what smoking was doing to the human body. For years after science had proved the link between cigarettes and cancer, powerful tobacco companies were contesting that conclusion with studies they had funded.

There is, naturally, a balance to achieve between what the science says and what democratic policy-makers believe is achievable. But as scientific knowledge expands, the number of people with a good grasp of it is shrinking. That makes it harder for the scientific community to get support for research and policy that may change our way of life, and it makes it easier for vested interests to muddy the waters.

“The blogosphere has a lot more non-experts in it than it’s got experts. When experts critique your work you listen to it. When someone who just happens to not like your conclusions has a whack at you, then I think you’re entitled to ignore it.”

"Democracy is far better than any other kind of government so you put up with it," Chubb says. "If you have a view and you have the evidence that supports that view and your view will lead to a betterment of process or policy then you've got to learn not to give up.

"That's my message for scientists as a whole… don't give up, even if it does create some sort of uproar in our media or blogosphere. And I say that for all sides of debate."

The Australian department of industry and innovation recently published a booklet that can be found nestled alongside the street press at inner city cafes that addresses the relationship between science and how we interpret it.

"Human psychology is a peculiar thing. Experiments show that we first seek out information that supports our existing positions and dismiss and ignore information that goes against them… when we adopt a position on anything we are very reluctant to give it up — even in the face of solid evidence," the booklet says.

So scientists whose work shows you something you don't want to believe certainly have their work cut out for them. But it's work Chubb believes Australian scientists are up to.

"We are always ready to argue the toss and try to repeat or replicate or change position in the face of new evidence. Most scientists know that they don't deal in absolutes," Chubb says. "They work in probability, but certainty? No.

"Does that mean that science is never settled? Yes it does, [but] it's that contest of ideas and the robust attempts to disprove hypotheses," he says, "that make science work."

26 comments on this story
by Luke

Firstly when did climate science become a science? Presumably it means meteorology extrapolated over time using statistical analysis rather than an actual science. Do they have actual theorems yet? Are they able to perform a set of experiments and duplicate the result which can then be verified by other scientists? Or is climate science the glorified buzzword instead of calling them weather statisticians. (This is a rant about the climate science field, not me saying scientists themselves are bogus. I am not calling their credentials into question. From what I have read most of the experts are actually Meteorologists who have moved into climate extrapolation)
I am sitting on the fence on this topic because I have yet to see any convincing data to show me climate change is real (or not real). At best I have seen data for the past 100 years which is only loosely correlated with a rising temperature. If I was a betting man the odds would be 51:49 in favour of a temperature rise. Certainly not enough for me to be convinced people CO2 affects the climate more than a large volcano does or it only rises because we keep producing it rather than the fact we have chopped down all the trees to reabsorb it.
This topic is certainly politicised and I heartily agree it is damn hard to find decent information that hasn’t been tarnished by politics but please let’s call statistics “statistics” and not science please.

July 5, 2012 @ 5:38pm
by Roxee

I am out there in the trenches trying to help. It's made more difficult because of a number of factors:
- access to research findings are more often than not behind prohibitively expensive paywalls for the average punter to access.
- Mass media outlets are corporate owned, apart from the ABC, and influence what's reported.
- Journalists often present opposing views as if each view carries equal weight.
- Our politicians either lie or misreprent scientific findings to suit those donating to party coffers.
- Religious institutions have too much influence on public policy because they insist their beliefs should be respected when public policy effects what believers are exposed to.
- School students are increasingly exposed at school to people who just might be whispering in their ear that what they learned in science class isn't true (chaplains).
- Thousands of children are being home schooled in this country who are not registered with the department of education. They are being taught creationism.
- Astroturfing is endemic and has successfully infiltrated social media sites and comment sections on blog and news media sites.
All of these factors render the job too difficult for scientists to overcome. There needs to be a massive overhaul of legislation to combat all of these difficulties otherwise I see us sliding further away from being able to combat the problems that face us and towards our past - a place as a women I don't want to visit.

July 5, 2012 @ 5:53pm
by Phil

Maybe each profession should take collective responsibility for their loss of credibility in the community.
Journos & politicians have reached epic lows and scientists have been sliding since they started taking money from big tobacco to sell lies. Since then too many have been allowed to prostitute themselves to corporate dollars from oil, mining, big pharma & other ruthless polluters.
Their peers should have immediately & vehemently exposed them rather than let the corruption hold.

July 5, 2012 @ 9:16pm
by Matthew

Using statistical inference to make (guarded) conclusions from observational or experimental data is one of the main ways Science is done these days. Call it Statistics if you want, I personally don't mind. I think it's silly that I received a major in Computer "Science".

There are some theories about how much solar radiation different gases absorb. I'm not an expert, but you should be able to test the fundamentals in a lab. Applying the results to climate will obviously be an extrapolation.

And if you do enjoy statistics, some people have been using ice core samples, tree fossils and other old things to estimate temperatures and CO2 levels back thousands of years. Low accuracy, but interesting work.

July 6, 2012 @ 2:08pm
by Paul

Luke

Science does not have theorems - they belong to mathematics. Science has theories - the general theory of relativity, the theory of evolution, Newton's theory of gravity, quantum theory etc. These theories cannot be proved in the mathematical sense and most if not all of them are wrong in some detail or another. They gain their credibility from an accumulation of supporting evidence, a lack of contradictory evidence and their general usefulness in describing the world around us.

Scientists do not all work in laboratories. Einstein for instance would have spent very little time - if any - conducting real experiments. He is famous for coining the phrase "thought experiments."

The theory of global warming has a long history. It started with the famous physicist and mathematician Fourier who concluded that the only way the earth can be as warm as it is is if some component of the atmosphere slowed down the rate at which heat escaped from earth to space. Other scientists took up the challenge and established that CO2 and water vapour were the relevant gasses.

Another scientist then reasoned that if CO2 was keeping us from freezing and we were burning lots of fossil fuels then the effect might increase to the point where it was keeping us a lot warmer than we would like. At the time he was derided on the grounds that we would never burn enough fuel and it was silly to think that we could actually change the climate.

Glaciologists studying the ice ages looking for causes for the earth cycling between glacial maxima (where Manhattan Island for instance was covered with kilometres thick ice) concluded that they were most likely caused by subtle changes in the earth's orbit. These changes did not change the total amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun but did change the distribution between the Northern Hemisphere (which contains most of the major land masses) and the Southern Hemisphere (which mainly consists of water.). Physicists calculated that these changes by themselves would not be adequate to force the observed amount of warming and cooling unless they were accompanied by substantial positive feedback. Studies of ice cores in Antarctica showed that this feedback was almost certainly provided by changes in the atmospheric density of CO2. It should be noted that nothing in science is ever completely certain.

Computer models of the atmosphere based on basic physical principles were originally developed to improve short term weather forecasts. They have been progressively improved and, while they cannot predict the weather on a particular day in the future or eve average global temperatures for a particular year they have been quite effective in predicting the medium to long term trends in temperatures and precipitation.

Climate scientists come from a wide range of disiciplines - physics, chemistry,, paleontology, statistics and meteorology.

The increase in CO2 that we observe is about half what we would expect if all the CO2 emitted from burning fossil fuels and making cement stayed in the atmosphere. It is therefore clear that the net effect of natural sources and sinks has been to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and we must take responsibility for the increase.

Chopping down forests has an effect but crop lands can actually absorb more CO2 than a mature forest and it is possible to quantify the effect of land use changes. The conclusion that scientists reach when they do that is that emissions of CO2 are the main culprit for the increase in temperature that we have observed over the last half century or so, and that the trend will continue if we continue emitting CO2.

You do yourself a disservice if you simply say "I don't understand it so I don't believe it." Frankly we each have a choice - do the hard yards, study mathematics, physics and statistics as a minimum, read the peer reviewed literature and form an opinion or seek expert advice.

That raises the question of where you get the expert advice. All individual scientists are human and suffer from human frailties. Some have entrenched philosophical positions (either pro uninhibited free enterprise or pro environment) some are very concerned to defend their previous work, some are in the service of industries or think tanks. My recommendation is to look to the peak scientific bodies. The British Commonwealth Royal Society, the American Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Science etc. Most of them have statements on their web sites about their view of our state of knowledge of global warming.

July 6, 2012 @ 4:42pm
by Andrew

I guess a response to Luke. Science is the method/philosophy of questioning (usually) the rest of the universe. It is self correcting and introspective. The study of climate would be more than meteorology as it brings in I would say more factors including time in geological scales. The formulation of hypothesis are formed from these observations and tested in a very very multidisciplinary way. Hence climate science.
The volcano thing is a furphy as the economist Mike Berners-Lee points out in "How Bad Are Bananas?". When Eyjafjallajokull erupted in 2010 it put out less CO2 than the grounded aircraft would have so might have been carbon neutral!

July 6, 2012 @ 6:57pm
by Dan

@Luke, you wont be shown. You will have to look for it. Here is a good start http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/

Yes, experiments can be made and repeated. One example : Different climate models are made independently, based on the current knowledge of radiative transfer among other things. The models are then run from the past (ie historical data used as starting points for the model) up to the present day. If they accurately predict the current climate - and the steps along the way - that is evidence the models can predict future climate change. If independent models agree with each other. That is even more.

That is apart from all of the biological and ecological evidence you can find in peer reviewed journals. There are plenty of free ones. Or go to your local university library, they will have subscriptions and print articles.

July 6, 2012 @ 7:20pm
by Dean

Climate change is more than just an increase in overall global temperatures. Some parts of the world will benefit, many will suffer. Usually when discoveries are made a few people who are involved from an early stage become wealthy selling their solutions to the masses. In the case of climate science, we have a bunch of public climatologists yelling at a public who have their fingers in their ears while investors, funds managers and foreign governments get advice on how they can maximize their benefits of climate change. Even if the worst predictions come to pass we will still have a place to live, work and grow food. We will just have to buy it at inflated prices from the people who acted early enough.

July 8, 2012 @ 10:23am
by GWK

Trust in scientists - commenter Luke is symptomatic of the problem with the lack of trust in science. Firstly, if you don't like the conclusion, attack the messenger. Secondly, because every one understands the weather, if he cannot see climate change happening then it isn't.

July 8, 2012 @ 10:26am
by Elija Perrier

The ALP has a new science advocacy group named the Labor Science Network which seeks to address exactly the issues raised in this article. We're running a Q&A session at the 2012 NSW ALP Conference entitled "Confronting the War on Science" with a number of prominent scientists and advocates. The event is free and open to the public. It begins at 1pm on 14 July 2012 at Sydney Town Hall (http://t.co/2v868DHF).

July 9, 2012 @ 9:10am
by R. Jago

Who Would Trust a Scientist These Days?
I have always loved science and am also drawn to logic and philosophy.
Unfortunately it is really difficult these days to find a logical scientist. I asked a visiting young scientist at a meeting about the health of the (local) North Qld coast. What can we do to help the Great Barrier Reef to survive? His answer was "Change your light bulbs". I was thinking of the huge amount of herbicide used on public land by the Local Authority,
and the lack of care about toxic garbage consigned to landfill. But our scientist was only concerned about CO2. He would not even concede that residents should worry about chemicals in home gardens.
Why is the health of the soil completely disregarded in discussion
about the 'future of the planet'.
It transpired that he had visited Barrier Reef Islands to SPRAY WEEDS. I'm sorry, that young man is completely captured by some advertiser's agenda. How can I trust him or anything he says about world climate?

July 9, 2012 @ 4:15pm
by Peter

Loved this article Sarah, but it does betray a little naivety about the politics of science itself. I am sure you have read Watson and Crick's "The Double Helix" which is a wonderful dissertation on behaviour that is rife among scientists themselves, even today. There are countless examples.

Carl Sargon suggested 95% of the American populace is scientifically illiterate - that the Australian populace is not much different is suggested by some of the comments one sees in blogs and in our papers by journalists who really should know better.

The politics of science is also evidenced in the orthodoxies that emerge and ultimately influence what actually makes it through the peer review system. But the strength of science was that data and conclusions were always able to be tested. Eventually this finally brushes away the politics and orthodoxies.

The major change that has occurred is the advent of the serious computational power provided by the physics of the silicon chip. So much today reported as science is actually speculation based on computer models. And because the code underpinning these models is subject to intellectual property laws, the testing and validation that science used to provide is not so easy.

And of course scientists are rarely good public communicators. The Climate Debate is a good illustration of that. It has now been totally immersed in public politics, because some scientists have made it a political rather than scientific argument, so evident by the language used within the debate. But maybe that was inevitable. I often found it difficult to get a management team of 6-10 individuals to agree on common action. Did anybody expect anything serious to emerge from a committee of 50,000 in Rio?

July 9, 2012 @ 4:44pm
by Sally

Hear,hear luke

July 9, 2012 @ 7:05pm
by Edward

Luke,

I'm not sure I understand the point of your discussion of whether "climate change science" is science or not. Do you mean to suggest that it is not a separately recognised discipline? Or that it doesn't fit the definition of science put forward by, say, Popper or Kuhn? (In that, for example, it is not subject to falsification?). If you're arguing the former, then that's pretty much irrelevant to the debate. If you're arguing the latter, it's a bold statement indeed which requires more support than the observation that climate change science relies heavily upon statistical analysis. By that reasoning, epidemiology (to choose just one example) is not science - which is absurd.

You also say that you're sitting on the fence on this topic, because you've not yet seen data which convinces you that climate change is real (or man-made, or wherever the line has been drawn these days). Of course that's fair enough; it's not my role, or anybody else's, to tell you what to believe. However, you do seem to be missing the point of the article. If I may politely assume that you are not a trained climate scientist, then your analysis of the data, speculations about volcanoes and so on (although riveting reading), makes absolutely no contribution to th debate. You simply don't know enough about the field to credibly assert that the position maintained by the specialists, who have spent the majority of their professional lives studying the topic, is wrong. As the good Dr Chubb points out in the article, not all opinions are worth the same.

What the article is about is this very attitude: that scientific authority is not worth as much as your comparatively uninformed personal opinion. Personally, I would be embarassed to say that my own internet research qualifies me to make pronouncements about scientific fact which differs from that of the experts, just as I would be embarassed to tell my doctor that my Google diagnosis is correct and hers is wrong; or tell the High Court that they don't understand how the Constitution works (I refer to the Australian newspaper here).

While you are entitled to hold that opinion, it has no relevance to the debate, because you are uninformed. Nor should it have. (Which is the point of the article).

None of this prevents you from criticising the science on other grounds. You may say it is immoral; socially undesirable; confusing; bad for Working Families; and so on. More importantly, you may argue about what the correct response to the science is - you may argue that a carbon tax is right or wrong, effective or ineffective, and you may vote according to that view.

But you simply cannot, without sounding deeply foolish, dispute its scientific validity.

July 10, 2012 @ 9:07am
by Peter

Luke,

Many, many areas of science are based on statistical methods rather than proving theorems; medical trials being a good example. By all means doubt global warming if you wish, but be careful what else you are invalidating at the same time.

July 10, 2012 @ 11:04am
by Rod

The real question regarding scientists like professor Chubb and the climate change debate is, 'Where does the science stop and considerations surrounding the implementation cost-benefits start.

Professor Chubb wants to have it all his own way and control all aspects. He falls into the same fundamental trap he criticises non-scientists for.

The IPCC reports quite rightly and fairly make the large uncertainties in the computer model predictions very clear and there are no experts on the face of this planet who have the expertise to solely decide the best counter-measures to take.

Chubbs expertise in climate science is no more than Mr Flannery's or mine as a Civil Engineer. Our common asset, like everybody else who is interested in a sensible approach, is we all have a brain!

I have no problem in the implementation measures being considered, argued and voted on politically by the people who will pay for them, expert or not. If a few divisive scientists who get their noise out of joint because they aren't used to being accountable then too bad, whatever the final outcome and choices we make in taking care of ourselves and the planet. That's wher our interest lays. Chubb, I'm not so sure about.

July 12, 2012 @ 6:02pm
by Susan Thorman

I read this article some months after it was posted, yet I must comment that "Rod" above represents the very view that this article is endeavouring to expose: this civil engineer believes his own knowledge and expertise to be equivalent to the Chief Scientist, Professor Chubb! I do have a questioning mind and commend those who retain an attitude of scepticism generally but to put oneself so immodestly as an equal of one's betters displays an arrogance and an ignorance that is not only distasteful but is dangerous. Democracy can all too easily become 'rule of the mob' and subject to all kinds of strongly held superstitions (like the world is flat and climate change is a delusion or a political manipulation and evolution is 'just a theory'). Like democracy, science too is flawed, however it is the best thing we have and it is what stands between our natural proclivity toward superstitious thinking and dependable useful knowledge.

As a psychologist I am proud to have the findings of my own discipline quoted here: Once a belief is formed, human beings are very reluctant to give up on it even in the face of clear evidence that they should. This is a scientific finding that is replicable, not an 'opinion'. I am often subjected to the opinion that my discipline is nothing but 'common sense' and that I therefore hold no special knowledge. Well that may be so, yet it is "common knowledge" that took me four years of undergraduate study and two years of post graduate study to attain and a life long dedication to maintaining my knowledge and skills. I would not be without it and it has given me a very good basis upon which to trust the findings of climate scientists. Thanks for your article that is sadly so necessary!

January 13, 2013 @ 12:34pm
by Wes Paas

Even in science there is alot of difference in what you "believe" and what you ''know"

January 16, 2013 @ 9:56pm
by Darlene Morris

Two comments:

First, in a democracy, it is not enough to be right, or to argue your case in approved forums. Corporate interests, whether big tobacco or big coal, employ PR companies to promote their message by multiple means, some of which may involve the selective use of apparently reasoned argument, but most will not. To quote Alex Carey (1922 to 1988), "The 20th century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance. The growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.". If scientists want to be heard, they need someone with deep pockets to employ PR professionals.

Second, in response to "Rod", one of the reasons why some scientists "get their nose out of joint" in response to not being listened to, is that they have a clearer understanding than most of us of the consequences of our collective inaction. As I understand it (and I am neither a scientist nor an economist), the inaction of our current generation will probably lead to unimaginable horrors for our grandchildren, while most of today's decision makers will likely die a natural death before they are required to experience the consequences of their decisions.

Nicholas Stern and Ross Garnaut are two noted economists who have studied the cost/benefit scenarios, basing their recommendations on climate projections which have subsequently been shown to be too mild. Their advice, too, has largely been ignored.

January 17, 2013 @ 12:34pm
by JohnM

Those whole claim or imply that scientific truth is primarlity determined by consensus show their ignorance of science. Unfortunately Chubb takes this attitude too. Science revolves around what the data shows and in this regard Monckton is miles ahead of Chubb

January 23, 2013 @ 8:25am
by ho ho ho

JohnM,

The agw deniers in fact commonly use an argument of the form that follows, where the premises are sometimes implicit:

1. If there isn't 100% consensus that AGW is happening, then there is no AGW
2. There isn't 100% consensus that AGW is happening.
---------
Hence there is no AGW.

From your own claim "Those whole claim or imply that scientific truth is primarlity determined by consensus show their ignorance of science", all those AGW deniers are ignorant of science.

Chubb as a scientist knows how scientific ideas become accepted. Scientific "truth" is determined by selective fitness of a model that describes some natural phenomenon.

A model that provides a better description of a natural phenomenon than another model becomes more widely accepted in the community of specialists.

So a consensus tends to form. A scientist doesn't accept a model because other scientists accept it; a scientist accepts a model if they accept the assumptions and the soundness of the reasoning within the model, and if the model has validated predictive power.

Another characteristic of scientific ideas is that they are highly consistent. Monckton makes claims about data that are completely at odds with what the specialists claim. What's going on? They can't both be correct. Nature is well-defined; there's no relativism, like arguing about which religion is correct.

Unfortuately for Monckton (and the rest of us), his claims don't stand up to scrutiny. The only people who take him seriously are the geriatrics at the bowls clubs.

January 24, 2013 @ 12:04am
by Ditte Anne Hellemose

- - Nature is well-defined; there's no relativism, like arguing about which religion is correct.

Very well said! There are no correct religion, they're all fairytales..

May 25, 2013 @ 2:58pm
by gary

science also says genetically engineered corn is safe to eat

June 18, 2013 @ 8:58pm
Show previous 23 comments
by Joe B

Genetically engineered corn is safe

October 3, 2013 @ 10:16pm
by Anne Lawrence

Why wouldn't you trust a scientist? They go by the facts. That should be all you need to know, right? http://www.aussec.com.au/alarms

January 10, 2014 @ 3:58am
by neville manser

It is amusing in regard to climate change a.k.a. global warming that non scientists are berated if they admit to scepticism. Yet many famous leaders of the climate change themselves are not scientists or scientists in that field. Al Gore, Tim Flannery, Garnaut, Stern, the head of the IPCC, and others are who I am thinkg about.

January 16, 2014 @ 11:13am
CLOSE
Type a keyword to search for a story or journalist

Journalists

Stories