Sliding science
Dec 8, 2014
Bishop Hill in Climate: MWP, Climate: Surface, Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley has one of those pieces in the Times that is just going to get Bob Ward's blood boiling. He covers the scandal over the neonicotinoid "research", the Met Office's claims about record temperatures and the revelations over the Sheep Mountain data, wrapping them all up in a sorry tale of scientists dropping their standards in the endless search for money and relevance.

The overwhelming majority of scientists do excellent, objective work, following the evidence wherever it leads. Science remains (in my view) our most treasured cultural achievement, bar none. Most of its astonishing insights into life, the universe and everything are beyond reproach and beyond compare. All the more reason to be less tolerant of those who let their motivated reasoning distort data or the presentation of data. It’s hard for champions of science, like me, to make our case against creationists, homeopaths and other merchants of mysticism if some of those within science also practise pseudoscience.

In all the millions of scientific careers in Britain over the past few decades, outside medical science there has never been a case of a scientist convicted of malpractice. Not one. Maybe that is because – unlike the police, the church and politics – scientists are all pure as the driven snow. Or maybe it is because science as an institution, like so many other institutions, does not police itself properly.

It's paywalled, but well worth it if you have access.

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