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    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Global Warming, Ice Ages, Hot Air, and Snow Jobs

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 17, 2010

Will the real “scientific evidence” please stand up?

I retain dim memories now of a time ‘way back in my mis-spent youth (usually recalled only with the aid of regressive hypno-therapy) when someone figured out that the hazy, murky air that seemed to perpetually hang over southern California might actually present real hazards beyond the occasional burning sensation we felt in our eyes. I suppose we always knew deep down inside that it wasn’t as harmless as we had long presumed, but we didn’t really grasp until the late-1960’s the potential drawbacks to breathing-in all that tetraethyl lead (a common gasoline additive of the day) and the increasingly-dense concentration of hydrocarbons and various industrial pollutants; scientists had finally produced reliable data that clearly identified the threat.

Similarly, the Surgeon General had released a report several years previously that (as the warning that each pack of cigarettes soon told us) “cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” It still wasn’t a certainty (hence the “may be”), but decades of anecdotal evidence and related research finally identified tobacco as a likely culprit. Unable to definitively link smoking to various illnesses, however, good science mandated that — although researchers were pretty well convinced of the hazards presented — they had to be honest and ‘fess-up that it was still conjecture. Strong conjecture, to be sure—but conjecture nonetheless. And they kept digging—as good scientists do.

Going back much farther, noted 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler built much of his work on predecessor Tycho Brahe’s foundation of astronomical observations. It’s been reported that Kepler found, however, that he was unable to reconcile a number of inconsistencies. Upon further investigation, he learned that Tycho — a respected researcher whose work had previously been confirmed — appeared to have taken some liberties with the truth; unable to substantiate his own theories but certain that he was correct, Tycho had substituted some of his research results with data that appeared to support his conclusions. Tycho’s data, unfortunately, proved to be flawed; as a result, much of Kepler’s work that had used this data as a foundation was necessarily scrapped and his own research begun anew. In a world that still viewed science warily, Tycho’s subterfuge certainly didn’t bolster confidence in scientific analysis.

It is against this backdrop that we must view the recent revelation that climatological research adduced as evidence of global warming is in fact suspect; eager to “prove” that the threat is real, overly-zealous scientists appear to have supplanted good science with political expedience, by turns selectively suppressing and over-emphasizing their findings.

They should be flogged.

It required hundreds of years for science to legitimize itself, rising from the level of alchemy and sorcery to establish itself as a trusted source of information. We long ago developed an affinity for the reassuring label “scientifically proven,” confidently hanging our hats on laboratory findings and using them as the basis for our own choices and decisions. We came to trust science as the way to better health, safer machines, improved living conditions, and the means to reveal long-hidden secrets of the world around us. We embraced in our minds the image of legions of white-coated purists dutifully plodding through reams of pristine data in the single-minded pursuit of the truth unfettered by outside influence or preconceived notions.

What we increasingly see, however, is a world rife with allegations of arm-twisting, influence-peddling, blackballing, pandering, butt-kissing, data manipulation, political influence, power brokering, and bribery that often relegates truth to the role of undesirable wallflower. Perhaps it has always been that way, a nether world carefully concealed behind laboratory doors, unseen by the general public. Perhaps later generations of scientists forgot the hard lessons learned by their predecessors. One might suspect that both possibilities come into play—as do others.

In any event, those who’ve forsaken the truth in furtherance of another agenda have betrayed their chosen fields—from medicine and public health to climate change to…who knows?

After the concept of global warming was first advanced, there appeared mounting evidence to support that claim—and our level of concern rose accordingly. As time went by, this cumulative evidence became more and more alarming; naturally, acceptance of the whole body of evidence widened. (Significantly, however, as far back as the early 1980’s there existed an entirely contradictory school of thought—one that warned ominously of a new ice age looming.) Though not universally accepted, belief in the phenomenon of global warming — and that it was caused by Man — had largely taken hold.

Until recently.

By now, most people are familiar with the scandal that grew out of the University of East Anglia. Though charges and counter-charges, denials, and disclaimers continue to fly, the validity of global warming claims (the current preferred expression is “climate change”—possibly owing to the current embarrassingly cold winter) has sustained a massive blow. Discoveries of collusion, suppression of data, and ruthless steamrolling of even respected voices of dissent within the scientific community have given rise to widespread skepticism over whether global warming is a problem at all—and (if it is) whether the condition is man-made. In addition, previously discredited studies are now the subject of closer scrutiny amid charges that they were too-brusquely dismissed.

Needless to say, confidence in the sanctity of scientific research has been shaken—a condition worsened by the involvement of “green” politics, cap-and-trade concerns, and the staggering financial implications.

Nor is climate change the only field under the microscope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long been criticized for overlooking clear health threats and selectively manipulating data to either focus or diffuse public concern—sometimes along purely political lines. And then there’s the noted researcher at Bay State Medical Center in Massachusetts who accepted a $75,000 grant from Pfizer to conduct clinical research on the company’s anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex; he published several papers citing patient data—but it was later discovered that he’d never enrolled a single test subject. (He’s been dismissed from Bay State and is currently under indictment for fraud; as it turns out, he’s alleged to have fabricated research data for more than a decade.)

I do not for a moment purport to be a qualified research specialist. I have neither the credentials nor the experience to rival scientists. I’m reminded, however, of the popular television show CSI, when the character Gil Grissom counsels his investigators to “follow the evidence.” Immanuel Velikovsky (author of Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos) initially set out to buttress his earlier research—but gradually became convinced that his original premises had been flawed. He then did what any good researcher (or scientist) should do: he changed the direction of his work and followed the data where it led him, sublimating his own views in the quest for truth.

We should be able to depend on at least as much from those who are so influential in determining what drugs are safe, which diseases pose risks, and how we should be living our lives.



4 Responses to “Global Warming, Ice Ages, Hot Air, and Snow Jobs”

  1. Lynne Z said

    For me, the matter is settled. Phil Jones, top “climate change” scientist who blew the whistle on those emails now says there hasn’t been any statistically significant warming since 1995 and that the Middle Ages may have been warmer. He also admitted that there is NO scientific consensus on the issue. Nuff said.

  2. Larry Z said

    Good job here, Jim. Hurling adjectives with pinpoint accuracy!! The
    problem is too many agendas,too much
    arrogance and influence (a deadly combo!). The intermediate result will probably be a placebo to placate the masses. ” Researchers re-evaluate severity of Global Warming on free- range chickens” kinda crap. Maybe we can harness the friction produced by the spin doctors and convert it into a
    new source of power!!Unlimited supply!!

  3. GrannyLin said

    OK, Jim. I confess my extent of current events comes from NPR and CBC (out of Windsor). Are you saying there is no man made global warming dooming this planet? Of course, we don’t want to know what is in the water we drink nor the air we breathe and certainly we have enough man made disasters to our environment to keep us occupied. But global warming was just a ruse? Wow. What about Al Gore? was he shyster or shystee?

    • Jim Seeber said

      ::: I confess my extent of current events comes from NPR and CBC (out of Windsor). :::

      Well. Your handicap, then, is obvious.

      Tell ya what. I’ll reply to this tomorrow morning in a new posting.

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