I’m a scientician by trade and therefore inevitably I have met many scientists over the years, both professionally and socially.
I’m also a capitalist – not exactly a mainstream political position – but I think this is even rarer amongst scientists most of whom do not understand that a capitalist society would actually result in more scientific research rather than less (although almost certainly less research in some currently favoured areas).
I think the government monopolization of science is sub-optimal and stifles free-thinking. Keeping state force out of science seems like a pretty good idea to me but obviously not to most.
I just finished reading this brief article detailing some statements excerpted from emails apparently stolen from Britain’s Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. There certainly seem to be some damming stuff in there and it certainly doesn’t appear that the science is settled as we so often hear from power hungry politicians:
In one e-mail, the center’s director, Phil Jones, writes Pennsylvania State University’s Michael E. Mann and questions whether the work of academics that question the link between human activities and global warming deserve to make it into the prestigious IPCC report, which represents the global consensus view on climate science.
“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” Jones writes. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal not to accept the work of climate skeptics with whom they disagree. “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal,” Mann writes.
This article reminded me of my own experiences that I encounter day to day as a scientist who is also a capitalist. Basically every single scientist I know professionally or socially supports government interference with the economy for the sake of the environment. While people I work with have no coherent answers to my objections (eg/ I may tell someone how harmful and pointless the ban on plastic bags in Sth Australia is) they clearly support government intervention and collectively focused anti-industry legislation. They mumble that “we have to do something” or similar. It’s quite depressing to witness this level of ignorance amongst smarter than average people.
A good example of this phenomenon occurred to me a few weeks back. A couple of my work colleagues were complaining about how the Adelaide based scientist and author Ian Plimer had “gone off the rails” and how dissapointing that was. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Plimer They once admired Plimer’s crusade against creationism during the 90s but couldn’t understand how he could now author http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven_and_Earth_(book) a book sceptical of the AGW hypothesis. I have not read this book and do not wish to comment on how good or bad it is but the point is that neither had my scientist colleagues. Say one word sceptical of climate change and you’re considered a leper, in my experience anyway. I know several scientists opposed to back burning to prevent potential bush fire damage, oil drilling, urban development etc
Oh well. I hope the tide turns and that the ETS can be abandoned in Australia. It’s a big hope but it appears my wish is possible. Despite what the UN’s IPCC claims, the AGW debate is still raging and scepticism is growing.
One thing’s for sure. I will not vote for the Liberal party if they end up supporting or compromising on the ETS. That will be the final nail in the coffin for a party that doesn’t give a stuff about liberty as their name attempts to imply.
Update 24/11/09. Wow, the University of East Anglica scandal is big news today. Andrew Bolt has an excellent summary at his blog. I found this Glenn Beck video linked from the Catallaxy blog: