Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

AAAS Weighs in on Attacks on Climate Scientists

with 4 comments

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued the following statement dated June 28, 2011:

We are deeply concerned by the extent and nature of personal attacks on climate scientists. Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public. This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems.

AAAS vigorously opposes attacks on researchers that question their personal and professional integrity or threaten their safety based on displeasure with their scientific conclusions. The progress of science and protection of its integrity depend on both full transparency about the details of scientific methodology and the freedom to follow the pursuit of knowledge. The sharing of research data is vastly different from unreasonable, excessive Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information and voluminous data that are then used to harass and intimidate scientists. The latter serve only as a distraction and make no constructive contribution to the public discourse.

Scientists and policymakers may disagree over the scientific conclusions on climate change and other policy-relevant topics. But the scientific community has proven and well-established methods for resolving disagreements about research results. Science advances through a self-correcting system in which research results are shared and critically evaluated by peers and experiments are repeated when necessary. Disagreements about the interpretation of data, the methodology, and findings are part of daily scientific discourse. Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that are controversial. Most scientific disagreements are unrelated to any kind of fraud and are considered a legitimate and normal part of the scientific process. The scientific community takes seriously its responsibility for policing research misconduct, and extensive procedures exist to protect the rigor of the scientific method and to ensure the credibility of the research enterprise.

While we fully understand that policymakers must integrate the best available scientific data with other factors when developing policies, we think it would be unfortunate if policymakers became the arbiters of scientific information and circumvented the peer-review process. Moreover, we are concerned that establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into the professional histories of scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions.

Kudos to AAAS!  Enough is enough.  We have important choices to make and we need the best scientific information to guide these decisions.


Written by Scott Mandia

June 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. It seems to me that people who would threaten someone because of their opinion do so because they are scared that the person is correct in their report. People don’t like being scared and blame the person reporting such facts as a problem to them. If they strongly disbelieved that climate change and global warming aren’t real, they would pay no attention to it.

    Thomas Bove

    June 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

  2. Thank you for publishing this. True, I have read it, and about it, elsewhere, but this must be said, again and again.

    Personally, I cannot help wondering if a case, every once in a while, of scientific malfeasance of some kind or another were to be turned up and handled appropriately, would not actually do some good, showing that the system actually works.

    Look at all the malfeasance (a.k.a. hanky-panky) in medical research! It keeps turning up. It keeps getting reported. Not too much of it is reported as a consequence of “appropriate handling”. Yet we still go & get our prescriptions filled, and take our medicines, in spite of the slime being thicker than on a sunken log in a swamp pool!

    David Collins

    June 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    • Please provide us with an example of medical research malfeasance which would’ve been better handled by threatening [snip] the researchers’ children.

      — frank

  3. Well, well, well. A German researcher opening a conference at Australia was shown a noose by a LaRouchite crazy.

    Time for climate scientists to push back — and to stop thinking that the metaphorical Ivory Tower will protect them.

    — frank

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