In my ongoing "series" of articles on why I don’t trust modern science (see bottom), I now offer a speech by Michael Crichton, which he gave to the US Senate’s Comimittee on Environment and Public Works. He repeats my sentiment that while scientific method is sound, increasingly, those employing it may not be trustworthy, esp. when our verification methods are poor.
In essence, science is nothing more than a method of inquiry. The method says an assertion is valid-and merits universal acceptance-only if it can be independently verified. The impersonal rigor of the method means it is utterly apolitical. A truth in science is verifiable whether you are black or white, male or female, old or young. It’s verifiable whether you like the results of a study, or you don’t.
Thus, when adhered to, the scientific method can transcend politics. And the converse may also be true: when politics takes precedent over content, it is often because the primacy of independent verification has been overwhelmed by competing interests.
He discusses, in particular, the lack of proper validation in climate stuies:
In 1998-99 the American climate researcher Michael Mann and his co-workers published an estimate of global temperatures from the year 1000 to 1980. Mann’s results appeared to show a spike in recent temperatures that was unprecedented in the last thousand years. His alarming report formed the centerpiece of the U.N.’s Third Assessment Report, in 2001.
Mann’s work was immediately criticized because it didn’t show the well-known Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures were warmer than they are today, or the Little Ice Age that began around 1500, when the climate was colder than today. But real fireworks began when two Canadian researchers, McIntyre and McKitrick, attempted to replicate Mann’s study. They found grave errors in the work, which they detailed in 2003: calculation errors, data used twice, data filled in, and a computer program that generated a hockeystick out of any data fed to it-even random data. Mann’s work has since been dismissed by scientists around the world who subscribe to global warning [sic].
Why did the UN accept Mann’s report so uncritically? Why didn’t they catch the errors? Because the IPCC doesn’t do independent verification. And perhaps because Mann himself was in charge of the section of the report that included his work.
Crichton then asks the vital question:
But if independent verification is the heart of science, what should policymakers do with research that is unverifiable? For example, the U.N. Third Assessment Report defines general circulation climate models as unverifiable. If that is true, are their predictions of any use to policymakers?