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« Rolls Royce minds | Main | The wind from Hawaii »
Thursday
Mar102011

Perverse incentives in the ivory tower

From the comments at Judith Curry's blog, a contribution from economist, Curt Doolittle.

The degree to which the academic scientific community in the west, since the 1970s has undermined scientific credibility is not understood in the incestuous circle of academia. To counter this effect: Write books not papers. Falsify your own work. Seek to justify opposing views. Ruthlessly attack others who undermine scientific credibility in the public debate. Reduce the number of graduate students and hide their work unless it is extremely well argued (this is a contrary incentive). It’s not about writing stories. It’s about doing good science. And right now, climate science is insufficiently articulated for human beings to justify paying the huge cost associated with the apocalyptic visions. Human beings are rational. They just need a rational argument and to understand the costs and benefits in relation to all their other costs and benefits.

The whole comment is worth a read.

I wonder where Sir Paul Nurse stands on the perverse incentives of academics?

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Reader Comments (8)

Curt Doolittle confirms the truth in the lyrics:
How you going to keep them,
down on the farm,
after they've seen Paree...

Mar 10, 2011 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

I'm pretty sure Sir Paul hasn't given it a moment's thought Bish.

Mar 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Eventually, people are going to realize that these scientists are incompetent. They can't set up thermometers properly, can't calibrate them, can't even be bothered to check them. Can't run a database with sufficient quality control. Can't do stats properly. Can't write competent software. Can't check/audit/replicate other studies. Can't do a competent assessment. Can't verify and validate a computer model. Can't tell the truth. Can't understand economics. Can't follow the law. Can't manage a competent investigation. Everything they touch turns to crap.

And they sure can't do PR worth a damn.

Mar 10, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Absolutely love this section:

"The fact that the international communist movement has effectively co-opted the green movement means that the entire research program is now effectively discounted as a political movement. The global warming movement must associate itself with commerce if it is to succeed. And it is not impossible to do so. Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers. Without exception. Scientists are notoriously ignorant of economics and politics. Where science succeeds, is where it unifies with the pragmatism of commerce. Not where it aligns with religion and politics."

There should be tv adverts and posters of this statement all over the UK.
Now that I'd pay for!

Mar 10, 2011 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I'm still chuckling after re-reading Willis Eschenbach's wonderful recent post in WUWT "Models All The Way Down", which illuminates the creation of ridiculous scientific fables such as the recent paper which purports to 'provide evidence' that Global Warming increased the probability of the 2002 floods in the Midlands, by having a series of models interact with each other and accepting the final modelled output as 'evidence'. At least the Moonboot saw it as evidence and rushed into print in the Grauniad before seeing that even 'lukewarmer' and pro-AGW scientists had reacted quite dismissively to the paper: his resident sycophants on CiF attacked anyone who could see the fallacy of confusing model outputs with evidence.
Small wonder Academe is not being taken too seriously in many quarters.

Mar 10, 2011 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Curt has the comment up at his own site too:
http://www.capitalismv3.com/

Mar 10, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I posted this previously on a WUWT thread, but it also seems appropriate here.

One reason why many serious but uninvolved scientists accept the warmist “consensus” is that in their own fields peer review is stringent and academic dishonesty unacceptable. They take this as a given, and thus accept at face value the assertions of “experts” in fields of which they are not personally knowledgeable. It is unthinkable to them that in “climate science” peer review could be corrupt and academic dishonesty rife.

Mar 10, 2011 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered Commentercoldfinger

Curt Doolittle,

I too was struck by your straight forward remark as follows,

""The fact that the international communist movement has effectively co-opted the green movement means that the entire research program is now effectively discounted as a political movement. The global warming movement must associate itself with commerce if it is to succeed. And it is not impossible to do so. Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers. Without exception. Scientists are notoriously ignorant of economics and politics. Where science succeeds, is where it unifies with the pragmatism of commerce. Not where it aligns with religion and politics."'

You have my concurrance on your whole post.

I flinched at the word 'pragmatism', if it was used as the philosophical variety (a la William James), then it is inconsistent with the whole of you post. If it was meant to be mean 'practical goal focused nature' of commerce then I agree 100% with your whole post.

Thanks, it was well put.

John

Mar 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

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