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Dear @Revkin: THIS Is The Science Worth Defending

Andy Revkin of DotEarth fame is not the only one worried about upcoming climate wars at the US Congress. However, compared to some deranged new initiatives (h/t SG), Revkin is at the forefront of public-policy sanity. How about trying then to remind him what kind of science is actually worth defending? Using a few quotes from a recent BBC Horizon episode, “What Happened Before the Big Bang?

(39m45s, by Roger Penrose)
Let me say that a change of mind is not something unpleasant, I find, it’s something exhilarating. Because you get stuck in a rut, that’s what I find, you’re thinking about certain things, and after a while you think you’re stuck into this rut. And a change of mind, you think, (slaps is forehead), “Ah, why didn’t I think of it like that?”, that’s extraordinarily exhilarating.

(56m35s, by Neil Turok)
I’m open to almost any philosophical point of view, as long as it works, and I want a theory that is ultimately tested by data and confirmed that this is the way the world works.

(57m34s, by Andrei Linde)
If you are not brave enough to ask strange questions, if you are not brave enough to believe your own answers even if they are unbelievable, then, well, OK, so you live your life, but then it is not completely fulfilled, If you take courage to answer questions in not necessarily the way which other people expects you, sometimes you
just end up saying stupid things, sometimes you end up saying something maybe wise.

For the slowest of readers, I am NOT putting that broadcast forward as an example of “good cosmology” (it most likely wasn’t). For me what is important is how three people with very different takes on the same topic, independently agree on the importance of the scientific method, that includes being able to change one’s mind, being open to what is confirmed by data, and being brave to stray off the mainstream’s pre-ordained path.

Little of that can be found among policy-obsessed climate scientists. The only consequence, and this should be clear to all by now, is that climate science has become a mediocre endeavor where a quest for “settled science” is preventing science from progressing, and from settling.

When nobody is allowed to say anything stupid, nobody is able to say anything wise.


It is supremely pointless to argue politics with the politicians as it would be to lecture the Pope on theology. Wouldn’t it be much more wise to take advantage of the new situation in Washington, DC to declare publicly and once for all that yes, there is no space any longer in climate science for fudging, bodging, refusing to share data, hiding uncertainties, preventing competitor colleagues from publishing, using journalists as puppets, etc etc etc?

Wouldn’t it, Andy?

Because otherwise, climate scientists and activists will only keep reaping disaster upon disaster. And nothing will get done. And then all “efforts to balance human affairs the planet’s limits” will go extinct even before those limits will be reached.

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