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Science associations give science a bad name

Posted By JoNova On March 1, 2010 @ 1:05 am In AGW socio-political,Global Warming | Comments Disabled

In this story from The Australian, we have the ludicrous double-irony of subscribers paying to read a story that disguises how their own taxpayer dollars are used against them to fund the  propaganda that’s used to justify milking them for more taxpayer dollars….

Sometimes, you’d think media releases from science associations and universities were Commandments from God.

If football associations put out media releases that tried to whitewash the news of clubs rampantly breaking rules, or of officials letting them get away with it, or of umpires placing bets on the outcome of games they rule over, the sports journos would bake the officials, grill the umpires, and lampoon the clubs. But, when the topic is “science”, and the spokespeople have polysyllabic titles, they are untouchable.

Admittedly, there is that other effect: advertising. The Higher Education Supplement is designed to sell advertising space to universities, and asking the top dogs biting-hard questions is probably not the way to win big contracts (the journalists might be cynical, but Australian universities are a $12 billion dollar industry). And look in the last budget: There’s a neat pink icing on the cake in the graph below, thanks to the man-made theory of global warming. That pink icing is worth $100 million dollars to Australian universities annually, and most of that money for clean energy research heads to members of science associations (and not to the legal, architectural, arts, or physical ed. departments).

Higher Education Funding Australia

New Higher Education Funding Australia

In “Climate Wars Give Science A Bad Name”,the Australian lets the universities and science associations get away with unquestioned promotion of nonsense.

Many of their utterances would evaporate under the weight of a single half-baked question.

Ms. Arabia, in charge of FASTS (the super committee for committees of Australian scientists), thinks (like Judith Curry) that the answer to all the problems for the man-made theory of global weather, and the woes of science popularity, is not to fix science, but to do better PR, as if spin is the answer to everything.

Look out for the big fake bear hug aimed at skeptics.

Anna-Maria Arabia, executive director of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), called yesterday for concerted action by the funders, producers, advocates and consumers of science to “restore confidence in the scientific process and profession”.

Ms Arabia said scientists welcomed public debate and embraced scepticism.

“In fact scientists would welcome a debate on current climate change that challenges the science with science. A scientist never regards peer-reviewed research as being beyond criticism.”

Scientists welcome skeptics? Like by saying “the debate is over”? Luke Slattery missed the perfect opportunity to ask:

And what exactly did FASTS do to encourage the debate? Did it:

  1. Invite skeptics to speak at any FASTS seminars?
  2. Coordinate meetings with prominent funded unskeptical scientists and their unfunded skeptical counterparts?
  3. Request that members stop throwing baseless insults (e.g. “denier”)?
  4. Defend skeptics right to demand the data?
  5. Pressure unskeptical scientists to release it?
  6. Censure scientists who manipulated the peer review system?
  7. Thank the highly-trained skeptics who have done valuable pro bono work?

(No, No, Never, No way, Nope, Unlikely, and What are you talking about?)

Margaret Sheil, chief executive of the Australian Research Council (ARC), said she was deeply concerned about the backlash generated by emails from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, the criticisms of Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, head of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, and poor research on the rate of glacial melting in a 2007 UN report on climate change.

So we can take it that the ARC supports researchers who conceal data and methods, and get caught?

Professor Sheil said she feared that these black marks would spread to a “broader negative public perception” of science.

And she’s right. It will, especially if science councils confuse the Scientific Method with Marketing & PR 101.

“Anecdotally, we now see tabloids and talkback radio, and even some broadsheet newspapers, perpetuating these criticisms and the notion that `scientists just made stuff up’,” she told the HES.

And until the scientists accused of making stuff up actually explain how they got their answers and data, and did their calculations, it seems the tabloids have a better idea of what science should be than the Australian Research Council.

“These sort of comments reflect a widespread lack of understanding of the nature of scientists and science more generally.”

Exactly.

Universities Australia aren’t concerned about the way modern science has collapsed in a hole, but they are concerned about their reputation.

UNIVERSITY leaders are pressing for a public campaign to restore the intellectual and moral authority of Australian science in the wake of the climate wars.

So the new term for whistle-blower scientists defending the oldest and most basic tenets of science is “warmongers” (I’ll take your FOI, and raise it to an ICBM).

Peter Coaldrake, chairman of Universities Australia and vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, told the HES yesterday he was “concerned about the way the climate change debate has flowed”, and would address the role of science in the formation of public policy at his National Press Club address next week.

He may well be concerned at the way the debate has flowed.

We’re concerned about the way science has flowed (apparently right down a high finance bore-hole toward a neolithic intrusion). You’d think he ought be concerned when scientists are being called names, and the scientific method is being publicly flouted by “scientists” who are in receipt of truckloads of government money:

“It worries me that this tabloid decimation of science comes at a time when we have a major national issue in terms of the number of people taking science at university,” Professor Coaldrake said.

See, and we thought the point of universities was to be centers of research excellence in the quest for human knowledge. Really it’s about how many EFTSL’s  (Effective full time Student Loads) you can squeeze into that neolithic intrusion university. (Can we dig another bore-hole back to the Stone Age?)

The “scientists” they discuss have admitted the e-mails were real. So these guys said hide the decline, delete the data, purge the skeptical papers. The tabloids haven’t decimated science; a few top-ranking scientists have spent ten years destroying science’s foundations. And dozens of scientific-sounding institutions didn’t complain.

As taxpayers and subscribers, we pay for the research that is misdirected, for the propaganda to cover the poor research, and for the newspapers to print the propaganda.

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