Tomorrow night the University of Western Australia (UWA) is hosting “Climate change scepticism under the spotlight”, where people who ought to know better are reverting to stone age reasoning. “Hail the Gods of Science!” The shame, the shame, it’s my old university.
Australian Professorial Fellow Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, from UWA’s School of Psychology, will discuss the perils of ignoring consensus in science…
The UWA School of Science ought to be grovelling embarrassed. Any scientific professorial fellow ought to warn about the dangers of ignoring the empirical evidence, or the perils of missing the whistleblowers who point out logical flaws.
Can we add that up?
Let’s follow the reasoning on consensus science. How do you weight the scoring system? Is one post-doc worth 3 honors students, or 5? Do we dilute citation-value according to the number of authors on each paper? Does a Nobel peace prize winner trump a class of undergraduates? Quick, we need a committee to figure it out. I can feel the need for a emergency formation of the Scientific-Authority-Demarkation-Institute. UN based of course.
I have written many times about how Lewandowsky uses Argument from Authority ad nauseum along with ad hominems, and lightly seasoned with Argument from Ignorance. (Picasso Brain Syndrome is probably my choice pick.) I saw him speak at a similar venture in December, and he spent several minutes on a long rambling ad hom about John McLean. It’s worse than just being unbecoming. We should not tolerate this poor standard of reasoning in an undergraduate of science, let alone a teaching staff member.
The Witchdoctors have moved into the Faculty of Science (which is now BTW awkwardly known as Life and Physical Sciences).
Scientists one and all, it’s time we talk about the dangers of consensus. The Truth, whatever it is, does not lie with qualifications, committees, or unmeasurable “esteem”.
The big problem for us is, how do we reclaim the universities? Can we shame them into picking up their standards?
BTW: I will be speaking in Narrogin tomorrow, and at UWA on Tuesday, so not much time for blogging…