The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Fake Science

Over the past two decades, and significantly over the past five years or so, "climate science" has been a lot less about actual science (where opposing views and skepticism are a normal part of the process) and a lot more about the advocacy of a leftist narrative that is approved by Team Apocalypse and its climate hysterics in academic, political leadership, the propaganda media, and major government agencies.

In my last post, I discussed some of this and was going to leave the subject for a while when I ran across a Substack article written by Patrick T. Brown. Brown is a climate scientist, and like all scientists and academics, getting published in prestigious journals is very good for a career. He discusses the research he submitted to the once-respected journal, Nature, indicating how he had to toe the party line on climate in order to get past the journal's internal vetting process.

Brown begins by noting typical media reports on wild fires that use scientific publications as references :

If you’ve been reading any news about wildfires this summer—from Canada to Europe to Maui—you will surely get the impression that they are mostly the result of climate change.

Here’s the AP: Climate change keeps making wildfires and smoke worse. Scientists call it the “new abnormal.

And PBS NewsHour: Wildfires driven by climate change are on the rise—Spain must do more to prepare, experts say.

And The New York Times: How Climate Change Turned Lush Hawaii Into a Tinderbox.

And Bloomberg: Maui Fires Show Climate Change’s Ugly Reach.

I am a climate scientist. And while climate change is an important factor affecting wildfires over many parts of the world, it isn’t close to the only factor that deserves our sole focus. [emphasis mine]

So why does the press focus so intently on climate change as the root cause? Perhaps for the same reasons I just did in an academic paper about wildfires in Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious journals: it fits a simple storyline that rewards the person telling it.

The paper I just published—“Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California”—focuses exclusively on how climate change has affected extreme wildfire behavior. I knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change in my research because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell. [emphasis mine]

This matters because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.

To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. 

But that's the whole point. Instead of a calm and thorough investigation of the effects of human activity on climate, we get alarmist propaganda—all designed IMO to set the stage for what may be authoritarian "emergency" policies and regulations that will accomplish nothing but will increase the power of government over the rights of the individual.

It's becoming increasingly difficult for scientists and researchers in any field—climate science, genetics, biology, sociology, criminology, education, etc.—to publish any finding that conflicts with the prevailing narrative. As Brown states:

It starts with the fact that a researcher’s career depends on his or her work being cited widely and perceived as important. This triggers the self-reinforcing feedback loops of name recognition, funding, quality applications from aspiring PhD students and postdocs, and of course, accolades ...

In theory, scientific research should prize curiosity, dispassionate objectivity, and a commitment to uncovering the truth. Surely those are the qualities that editors of scientific journals should value.

In reality, though, the biases of the editors (and the reviewers they call upon to evaluate submissions) exert a major influence on the collective output of entire fields. They select what gets published from a large pool of entries, and in doing so, they also shape how research is conducted more broadly. Savvy researchers tailor their studies to maximize the likelihood that their work is accepted. I know this because I am one of them.

At least Brown has the integrity and courage to admit it. 

Maybe it's time to coin a new phrase—"fake science," and require appropriate labeling of any scientific paper that does not provide context, does not include data that might conflict with its conclusions, and does not treat findings as tentative, recognizing that all science changes with time—the debate in NEVER over.

But in the worldview of leftists—and make no mistake—fake science is worshiped by the Left when it conforms to its dominant narratives, there can be no opposition. Maybe that because fake science cannot be defending when actual science is discussed.

UPDATE (09-16-2023):

The hysterical (both meanings of the word) headlines continue, and just keep getting better. This unintentionally comical tweet from the NYT—the clarion voice of the Left and charter member of Team Apocalypse—warns us of "eco-anxiety":

Even the most extreme catastrophists claim (without any meaningful proof and much science to refute the claim) that warming will occur over the next century. Who in their right mind would suffer from "anxiety" due to something that will take 100 years to occur. Oh ... wait ... they're not in their right mind ... so ...