Science Under Attack [VIDEOS]

Published on February 4th, 2011 | by

February 4th, 2011 by

BBC had created a pretty great feature recently, Science Under Attack. “Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse examines why science appears to be under attack, and why public trust in key scientific theories has been eroded,” the YouTube page for the first video above says. Sir Paul Nurse, head of the Royal Society, a world-leading scientific organization, focuses a good deal of attention on climate change here.

He talks with one of the ‘leading’ climate scientists who is skeptical that humans are causing climate change and thinks it has more to do with the sun. And he pretty clearly explains why this one scientist’s lifelong focus is a bit too narrowly focused, and debunked, to hold sway.

He also has a long one-on-one with James Delingpole, a UK journalist critical to the Climategate media scandal (no, not climate science scandal, but climategate media scandal).

On the series, Bryan Walker of Hot Topic writes:

Nurse considers not only the NASA data but also the work of seven decades of research from scientists across the globe and concludes that the extent of the data gives us reason for confidence in the idea that the globe is warming and we are causing the change. Yet this evidence is clearly not convincing a substantial part of the wider public.

And quoting one of Nurse’s main conclusions, on the topics of peer review and skepticism:

As a working scientist I’ve learnt that peer review is very important to make science credible. The authority science can claim comes from evidence and experiment and an attitude of mind that seeks to test its theories to destruction…. Skepticism is very important… be the worst enemy of your own idea, always challenge it, always test it. I think things are a little different when you have a denialist or an extreme skeptic. They are convinced that they know what’s going on and they only look for data which supports that position and they’re not really engaging in the scientific process. There is a fine line between healthy skepticism which is a fundamental part of the scientific process and denial which can stop the science moving on. But the difference is crucial.

Check out the videos on climate change above and below to enjoy this wonderful piece.

Tree Rings, “The Nature Trick,” and the Infamous James Delingpole

A Little More with Delingpole, Press Reports on Climate Change

A Little More with Delingpole, the Importance of Peer Review and Healthy Scientific Skepticism, & then Other Topics

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  • To Genealogy Master:

    The content of your post indicates that you are using relatively old information; talking points formulated from over a year ago, it seems. I surmise that you have done little follow-up to these criticisms. If you had, you would’ve discovered that no less than three independent investigations of the CRU (and its data analyses) have occurred. All have exonerated the final scientific conclusions of their work, with some criticism/recommendations for improved data sharing, transparency of methodologies used, public communication, etc.

    AS to your claim that “no legitimate criticism occurred in the review”, this untrue. But what are you calling “legitimate” here — only criticism that refutes their claims, or that you agree with? Most such “peer review” occurs BEFORE the paper(s) are ever published. Following this, letters to the editor, criticizing a paper, may be published in the journal/magazine.

    Additionally, professional societies and scientific organizations and academies also review, debate, and critique controversial findings/data results.

    All of these things have occurred. This approach is legitimate for every other research center, or its published findings, why is it insufficient for CRU’s?

    Science has no shortage of critical debate happening at any given moment…the problem is that most of this debate occurs away from the eyes of the public — a public that is only moderately, scientifically educated (at best) and which is often unaware of what is involved in establishing a scientific consensus.

    Regarding “temperature data sets” — just how were they “tainted” exactly? I challenge you to produce (heretofore un-vetted) evidence (and explication) of this alleged tainting.

    I believe that part of this “tainted temperature data” rumor was the result of flawed satellite date from one of the older NOAH satellites (NOAH 15, 16, 17). Satellites age and breakdown (their temperature sensors go hay-wire) just like people. The data feeds from these older, malfunctioning satellites were mistakenly kept on-line and used by a few erroneous academic studies — but never used in NASA/NOAH climate models, as both agencies were aware of the flawed sensor and simply stopped using the data.

    These older ones have been taken off-line and replaced with a fully functioning satellite. The new temperature sensors are now functioning properly.

    It is possible that some of this bad satellite data may have been mixed in with the DRU’s research/data analysis (I can not verify this)…but, if so, this bad data would show up as a statistical anomaly, and would normally be mathematically trivialized/discounted.

    Despite this, the “flawed temp, data” meme keeps going, and going…thanks to well-meaning (I presume) but badly mistaken skeptics.

  • Well we need more debate on this issue. The CRU still refuses legitimate FOI requests and we know the temperature data sets are tainted and with climate science was the peer review healthy? We still don’t know it appears that scientists friends were reviewing papers and no legitimate criticism occured in the review. So until we have a proper investigation the public will never believe.

    • we’ve had numerous proper investigations, but anti-science disinformers or misinformers are not interested in the results of those..

      this is the head of the most prestigious scientific organization in the UK (which has reviewed the issue and vindicated the scientists’ work). time to wake up.. climate science is an established field with strong, well-supported conclusions to share with the world (in order to help it). only being halted by the fossil fuel industry and their puppet politicians and scientists, who keep the public ignorant enough not to demand change.

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