OK, so I respond to the comment on the previous post claiming that climate change data are phony and rigged to achieve a predetermined conclusion. The principal reason that this is unthinkable is that hundreds climate data have passed the peer review system by which anonymous experts opine on the veracity of data and conclusions in any scientific paper. Anonymity means that the authors are not told the identity of the reviewers who are then freer to criticize without fear of professional retribution. Now, the peer review system is highly imperfect – the reviews themselves are frequently wrong or contradict each other, and thus rubbish gets published, including in the very top journals. We’ve had famous examples of that, even from respected professors, such as the water memory/cold fusion affairs, and, in the other direction, future Nobel-prizewinning science has been initially rejected. Furthermore, peer review, and the funding process, does not fully protect against cronyism and gatekeeping: a paper or grant proposal challenging orthodoxy is more likely to be rejected (unless clearly irrefutable) as the editor and reviewers are more likely to support the mainstream. But this is natural: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Further, these papers can be resubmitted and, if they are of some merit they will likely eventually appear in some other peer reviewed journal, where they will then likely attract unusual subsequent attention. The nature of science is such that these published results can be objectively tested independently, and by this process the truth normally is established. Further, scientists in any field LOVE to prove each other wrong because it is a great holier-than-though schadenfreude feather to have in one’s cap. I have a colleague who spent almost his entire illustrious career doing that. Science is highly egotistical and competitive – we work against more than with each other.
In the case of climate change, there are large uncertainties and unknowns in the science. However, the critical point is that we are not just talking about one set of data or a single paper, but a large collection of observations and calculations: 928 papers between 1993 and 2003, for example, none of which disagree with the consensus. If the data supporting the general warming trend were to be mostly ‘phony’ and ‘rigged’ then there would have had to have been a fraud of absolutely unprecedented proportion. Thousands of brilliant, accomplished and respected scientists, reviewers and editors from all over the world, working for many different disparate, independent organizations, would have had to have conspired to create an enormous, insulated, fantasy world of rigged publications. If ever that happens public mistrust will be such that society may well give up science altogether and go back to the days of pre-enlightenment irrationality: a state of affairs in nobody's interest. Even had there been a political incentive for a massive scam, which there was not, it would have been unworkable.
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