A Point of Decorum

I commented on a blog recently, expressing a concern about the integrity of the scientific method as it is being applied by "the consensus" (IPCC) of climate scientists. I was informed by the blog's author, that I was not being duly concerned, unduly concerned, or even obsessively concerned -- I was being "a little hysterical." Hysterical? LOL.

A point of decorum. Politeness has its purpose. Making uncomplimentary statements about a person's emotional state and its effect on his ability to reason correctly can easily be interpreted as simply not wishing to discuss an issue on its merits. Or that the purpose of the posting is something other than technical or scientific.

Such statements as "being hysterical" are quite impossible to defend against. What evidence can you produce to change someone's opinion about such a thing? So such statements are never made with the intent of being proven right or wrong. This, again, calls into question an author's own motivations in making such statements. IMHO, a technically useless turn of events.

And so the author's response to my comment prevents any further comment by me. Technical discussion over. (At least the comment was posted. Kind of the author not to let my work go wasted.)

Let me reemphasize my main point. Impoliteness is scientifically/technically useless.

E.T. Jaynes once wrote: "In any field, the Establishment is seldom in pursuit of the truth, because it is composed of those who sincerely believe that they are already in possession of it."

I have never doubted the sincerity of the IPCC climate scientists' beliefs about the proper application of the scientific method. Nor do I doubt the sincerity of those climate scientists skeptical of the IPCC consensus' beliefs.

Why? Fortunately, for the scientific method ONLY, these sincere attitudes of climate scientists do not matter. The scientific method, when applied with integrity (regardless of one's prior attitude), is self-correcting.

As you can tell from my sig: "Politely Avoiding Sophistry," I believe decorum should be observed. But I guess some people simply do not understand why such a thing would be important.

1 comment:

  1. George,

    To be fair, I said "a little hysterical", and I was aiming it more at the broader blogging community who are busy whipping up a frenzy about supposed damage to the public reputation of science. You can take umbrage if you like (that's your prerogative), but I do think we are witnessing a kind of hysteria, being whipped up by some extreme ideologues, that argues that somehow a mild mannered (and frankly inarticulate) scientist at the CRU as supposed damaged the reputation of science in general. The irony is that it's completely backwards, because it is exactly these ideologues who are systematically destroying the value placed on science in the broader public discourse by a steady stream of attacks on scientists and the work they are doing, in order to further their ideological interests.

    Anyway, I thank you for calling me on it, because it means I found your blog, and all the interesting stuff you're writing about V&V.