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Elizaphanian on science and the Hockey Stick

Sam Norton, who by day is a churchman - the Rector of West Mersea in Essex - has written a very interesting post about the Hockey Stick and how layman can assess the competing arguments.

When McIntyre started up his Climate Audit blog, it was the equivalent of the 95 theses. In just the same way as Luther believed himself to remain a faithful Christian, and not be inventing a new religion, (and, in fact, had the church responded with integrity, he would have remained a Catholic) so too do McIntyre's criticisms not raise any questions about the theory of scientific investigation. Instead, the questions raised are about the current practice of that scientific investigation, most especially with regard to paleo-climatology and the weight given to certain alleged results in that field.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (6)

"Of course, I could be completely wrong, but in my view, just as Luther triggered the Reformation, and in due course the Protestant church, I suspect that what McIntyre has done is trigger a new and Reformed style of science - one in which openness and transparency are the hallmarks, and which is faster, more dynamic, more creative - and more accurate - than the existing magisterium."

I wouldn't call it a reformed style of science. I'd say he contributed in redirecting the train back towards the tracks. But that train is still far from being back on track.

I think the AGW religion will be around for a long time - at least until the next ice age. People are aattracted to it because it's a religion where despising people and success are virtues. Face it, it's much easier, and for many people it's even fun, to depise people and success. Really, it is. Loving people is really hard sometimes - just think of the neighbour next door.

No, AGW makes a lot of people feel superior to others, and that it's okay for them to look for ways to punish and dictate them. All in the name of saving the planet, you see.

May 14, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin

Perhaps the analogy to Luther is not entirely apt. My impression, having watched Climate Audit evolve more or less from the beginning, is that Steve McIntyre got into this partly because he was bored, and the Hockey Stick intrigued him. He can stick with it because he is not "of the church," not beholden to their patronage and, I believe, not truly at great personal and professional risk (until Greenpeace puts out another fatwah.) His cause has benefited from the coincident rise of blogging/internet, which allowed his publications much wider readership than would have been possible 10 or 20 years earlier. In fact, if he had gotten involved 10 or 20 years earlier, we probably would never have heard of him because he would fail to get published; these days you need to do much more than tack 95 theses on the front door of the science building.

That said, perhaps a "reformed style of science" is not such a bad idea, since what we have today is clearly sub-par, not just in climate science but other disciplines as well. We don't want to get it back on the same old track, but in a better direction. While blogs and other publication avenues can be useful, as McIntyre's experience demonstrates, I believe Steve himself has opined that it is not a replacement for peer reviewed literature. But the peer review process (or the funding process, for that matter) is in need of reform, and perhaps alternative publications can serve a purpose here.

As for the AGW religion, moral superiority and denigrating those less-than-worthy is an unfortunate part of human nature, and many scientists can't help being human-all-too-human. Indications are that Isaac Newton was just as moralistic and denigrating to those he disagreed with as, say, Michael Mann. It's just that his intelligence was so much more.

An interesting pointer to an interesting blog -- I may subscribe.

May 14, 2010 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBanjoman0

Where did you find that splendid vicar? Articulate, informed, clear-headed and confident. I thought that breed had been extinct for at least forty years.

May 14, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterVinny Burgoo


Episcopal powers of telaesthesia.

May 14, 2010 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


See what happens when you use the nom de plume of "Bishop". Now you are a Martin Luther. Interesting viewpoint.

I disagree with some of his points, but given he has a limited background in science, per se, I find him refreshingly thoughtful.

He might look at the dogma of AGW from a theological view point in his next blog. That might be very interesting reading. He is thought provoking. Whether I agree or not, he does make me think about what he says. That is fairly rare.

May 15, 2010 at 3:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Thanks for the link. I have added it to my favs and will look through his other topics also.

May 15, 2010 at 6:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterEd Forbes

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