The Future of Science

Adapted from J.R. Dunn’s Global Warming Fraud and the Future of Science. (Dunn’s words. My edits.)

What has suffered the most damage from AGW is faith in the scientific method, the basic set of procedures — it could be called an algorithm — governing scientific investigation. These procedures embody simplicity itself: you examine a phenomenon. You gather data. You construct a hypothesis to explain that phenomenon. And then…

Well, first, let’s cover what you don’t do.

  • You don’t manipulate data
  • You don’t fabricate data
  • You don’t deny data to other investigators
  • You don’t destroy evidence
  • You don’t bury contradictory data
  • You don’t secretly manipulate the argument from behind the scenes
  • You don’t secretly undermine your critics
  • You don’t try to get a journal editor critical of your case fired

What you do, if you are a serious scientist operating according to the established method, is attempt to thwart your hypothesis. Test it to destruction; carry out serious attacks on its weakest points to see if they hold up. If they do — and the vast majority of hypotheses suffer the indignity embodied in a phrase attributed variously to Thomas Huxley and Lord Kelvin — “a beautiful theory slain by an ugly fact” — then you have a theory that can be published, and tested, and verified by other scientists. If you don’t, you throw it out.

The West is a technological society. Science is as responsible for making us what we are as any other factor, including our democratic system of government. The technology developed from scientific research has created a world that would be unrecognizable to our forebears of even a century ago. Technology has transformed diet, health, communications, and transportation. … Technology was a crucial factor in the dissolution of ancient empires and the humbling of aristocracies.

The collaboration between science and democracy is one of the great achievements of human history. If it is destroyed, a treasure of unparalleled value will have vanished.

Update: John Brignell also writes on this at NumberWatch

(originally published on Facebook 2009-11-30)