In essence, science is nothing more than a method of inquiry. The method says an assertion is valid-and merits universal acceptance-only if it can be independently verified. The impersonal rigor of the method means it is utterly apolitical. A truth in science is verifiable whether you are black or white, male or female, old or young. It’s verifiable whether you like the results of a study, or you don’t.
Thus, when adhered to, the scientific method can transcend politics. And the converse may also be true: when politics takes precedent over content, it is often because the primacy of independent verification has been overwhelmed by competing interests.
Verification may take several forms. I come from medicine, where the gold standard is the randomized double-blind study, which has been the paradigm of medical research since the 1940s.
I found this link recently and eventually found my way over to Steve McIntyre’s blog, Climate Audit. Michael is the well know author of many books including Jurassic Park. In his testimony to the Senate he is critical of the scientific techniques used in putting together the hockey stick graph. The hockey stick graph is the keystone to showing that global warming is caused by human activity. I found his discussion of the data manipulation tricks used by Mann to be both interesting and worrisome. These are old statistical tricks that I have seen engineers try to use occasionally so I was surprised that scientists would even consider using them. Picking which data you want to use, excluding data that is “wrong”, and extrapolating new end points only leads to bad decisions. From my experience with engineers we eventually would agree that the data was not good enough to make a decision with and move on to different ways to solve the problem. To think that these techniques would pass as appropriate scientific techniques under peer review is astonishing. In reading Michael’s testimony before the Senate, I can see why global warming skeptics are so skeptical and the advocates have become even more vocal. The underlying issue driving the volume of global warming debate is professional pride. It is embarrassing to Mann to have your greatest scientific work exposed as “unscientific” by an economist and a mathematician. It is embarrassing and distracting to the climate scientific community that Mann’s work was published with such low scientific standards and now must be defended. It is no wonder that this scientific debate has degraded into a pissing contest. Thank God Mann does not work for the pharmaceutical industry!