Science Heresy

December 2010

Has science reached its use-by date?

In this edition we look at the way science has degenerated into something akin to a state religion.

How did this come about?

The Death of Science?

How the Greens have been misled

The publication of Rachel Carson's book "The Silent Spring" in 1962 virtually launched the Environmental Movement. The Greens were desperately needed back then and their rise echoes that of the Chartists in Britain a century earlier. The Greens have been, and continue to be, a major influence on Western society. They punch above their weight.

Just as the Chartists came to be subsumed into Socialism, the Greens appear to need a unifying philosophy, a marching song to keep them in step as they enter the halls of power and take their seats alongside the great and the good. Environmental issues are becoming ever more complex and multifaceted as the realities of political power start to bite.

On the face of it, climate change appears to be a good fit. Many bad environmental outcomes can be explained in terms of climate change and climate change itself, in turn, can be sheeted home to Capitalist Greed and the continued use of fossil fuels (particularly coal which even looks dirty).

Practitioners in a small backwater of science known as Climate Science were only too happy to provide a ready made theory dating back to 1896 which could be made to fit the small (0.6 deg C) rise in global average temperature which occurred during the 20th century. Furthermore they were also happy to churn out a litany of catastrophic scenarios of looming disaster should we not mend our ways.

There is very little evidence for any of this but it certainly got the funding flowing for the scientists concerned and many others who were happy to jump on the gravy train. And it seems to have become the raison d'etre of the Greens.

The Greens would do well to take stock of this devil's contract as pointed out in this excellent article by Margaret Wente of the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Mixing the Ocean

The means are now available to restore the health of the oceans, increase fish stocks, reduce ocean acidity and remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

This can be done by means of Ecofluidic's "Nutrient Megapump"(left). This is a gigantic bubble pump which uses slugs of wet steam from volcanic hydro-thermal vents on the ocean floor to mix deep nutrients into the surface layer.

You would expect anyone concerned for the environment to welcome such an idea, but no, the high priests of environmental science classify such an idea as "geoengineering" and therefore to be opposed at all costs. The editors of Nature appear to share these views.

It appears the only politically correct way to remedy the planet's ills is by abstinence.

Mixing the Ocean

Ecofluidics and its Nutrient Megapump

How Peer Review Fails - A Case Study

The paper about ice-ages described in the September edition was rapidly and firmly rejected by the editors of Journal of Climate, but the reviews that lead to this rejection reveal a great deal about peer review and its deficiencies.

These Journal of Climate reviews make an interesting case study of the dysfunction of Science. They reveal hermetic isolation of disciplines, show how the peer review process operates in practice to suppress new ideas and to entrench antiquated methods of data processing.

Reviewer A's objections concerned the lack of up-to-date literature references, a defect easily remedied.

Reviewer B does not understand the word "stochastic", does not understand modern methods of time series analysis and is incapable of drawing conclusions from observational data. He rejects the paper because it does not utilize an obsolete style of data analysis still sometimes used in the environmnetal sciences. This, the Blackman and Tukey method, was borrowed from engineering for use with hand calculators in the days before electronic computers. It effectively precludes proper statistical evaluation of spectral data.

This is how peer review works in practice. It leads to the establishment of clubs of old fogeys who evaluate one another's papers according to arcane and irrelevant criteria so as to exclude new people and new ideas from their discipline. It may be necessary but it is certainly not sufficient.

Reviewer B's comments are analyzed in detail here in How Peer Review Fails.