The crisis over climate data has been met with numerous statements about preserving the “sanctity” or trust in the wisdom of science and scientists. As if our scientists were an improvement over their theological predecessors, or their pragmatic and prostituting peers in politics. But that can hardly be true, if one understands the history of science, or the scientific method and it’s limits, or the behavior of human beings belonging to schools of thought, in history. People are driven by material gain, status, and power, and have significant cognitive biases in favor of those selfish traits, that appear in all aspects of human behavior, not just in politics, commerce, or religion, but also in science.
My position has been, along with many, that it certainly appears as though the data says the climate is cooling, along with it’s normal historical ice age cycle.
The public does not trust academia, or the scientific community. It does trust particular scientists who are also public intellectuals. THe press likes to trust and advocate science because secular humanism has become today’s religion. In an effort to counter scholastic religion, secular humanists frequently tolerate what it considers acceptable losses.
But given that, due to current events, we know most mathematical economics since the second world war is faulty, because the logic behind it was faulty. Because they sought to justify government intervention in the economy by monetary policy: Something Hayek believed was the intellectual’s fascination with their levers and their desire to run tests on society to experiment with their efficacy.
And there are numerous other ‘givens’.
Given that over nine tenths of research papers contain logic errors that invalidate their conclusions, whether in physical science or social science.
Given that it at least appears that the peer review method of publishing articles is becoming invalidated when compared to the more difficult job of writing books that require broader integration of a paper into a network of theory.
Given that our universities are rated by input rather than output criteria, and that this bias has material impact on society.
Given that it certainly appears that there is a great deal of ’skewing’ in the community, on top of the pervasive errors in the logic of conclusions.
Given that academic departments are not materially meritocratic, but political – and radically so.
Given that we produce large bodies of research that are faulty and repeatedly proven faulty whenever they aspire to affect the political debate, in order to make it easier to obtain grants.
Given that academia does not separate teachers from researchers, and that students see their best teachers evicted from universities, for what appears to be political interests of intrenched parties, and all of us who are educated walk around with this knowledge and experience.
It becomes somewhat hard to understand why the public should believe in the myth of scientific ethics.
Scientists pursue self interest, just like the rest of us. But there are no checks on that self interest when the testing criteria for that self interest is obscured by all the behaviors above. The rest of us are tested by the market.
And it appears that the market is a much better test.
Scientisim has replaced theology as a means of influencing policy. But I’m not entirely sure it’s all that much better than arguing about angels on the head of a pin. It certainly seems we should be at least as skeptical of our scientists as we were of our theocrats.
And perhaps more so.
The scientific community is a market; a market of ideas. You should not put more stock in individual scientists or “public intellectuals” than in scientific consensus and the market of ideas in which consensus if forged and challenged. The market for ideas is as competitive, self-interested, and as meritocratic as most other free markets- all of which share problems like you cite above.
“The market for ideas is as competitive, self-interested, and as meritocratic as most other free markets- all of which share problems like you cite above.”
That *cannot* be true.
The market has no claim to truth, nor is it a weapon of political coercion. It is ultimately and entirely pragmatic, and the means by which we fill each other’s wants by the pursuit of self interest, at the lowest cost, despite the fact that all people seek to game, or circumvent that market whenever possible.
Markets exist, and always have. The state has generally, created sufficient stability so that markets can evolve in a fashion in which only the government molests them. And the government molestation is determined as good or bad only by how it redistributes the profits of its molestation: to itself or to the public. A public who must also fail to molest itself by interfering with trade or property, as well as refrain from molestation of the state.
But, the moment that ideas are used to influence government policy, they make claims to truth. Our concept of truth is as a method of coercion.
In the context of this discussion, which was the public TRUST in the scientific community, trust must imply truth not pragmatism. Otherwise the conversation is meaningless.