Political intimidation of scientists

fight club by Polina Sergeeva

Michael Mann in Washington Post op-ed: “Get the anti-science bent out of politics”
[Via ClimateScienceWatch]

Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann has a column in the Washington Post section this morning that begins: “As a scientist, I shouldn’t have a stake in the upcoming midterm elections, but unfortunately, it seems that I — and indeed all my fellow climate scientists — do.” And concludes: “My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public.


‘Kill the messenger’ has been a strong arm political tactic probably since mankind invented politics.

Anyone who watched the vilification of researchers working on the health effects of cigarette smoking will easily see it as a testing ground for the same approaches being brought to bear against climatologists. The main point is not to gain a better understanding about the world around us so that we can take better actions. It is to intimidate and freeze out those who might wish to study science in this area:

The ultimate goal is to make the process sufficiently painful so that the researcher cannot complete further research and so that other scientists are discouraged from conducting similar studies.

Scientists are perfect subjects for harassment by litigation. They often have little knowledge of the law and little patience for the slow and subtle workings of the legal system. The distraction and anxiety caused by depositions, legal costs, and court appearances can easily put an abrupt end to a promising line of research or a research career.

As discussed four years ago, some of the same people involved in the Big Tobacco efforts are now involved in climate change harassment. If a scientist’s time is spent on subpoenas and depositions, they can not produce any science that these harassers find distasteful. Why would any normal person want to enter a field where much of their time will be spent up paying lawyers fees if the results do not fit what the politicians or corporations want to see?

This should be about policy differences, where people of good-will can discuss what to do. Instead, these politicians attack the science and the scientists themselves, permitting them to refrain from engaging in any meaningful discussions at all.

The goal is not a good-faith discussion of what the data are telling us but is all about making political points and taking prisoners. Smearing non-public citizens with the same techniques used for political rials. It is to stifle a more complete understanding of the world around us. It is anti-knowledge. It is anti-American.

Political intimidation of ordinary citizens has been a black mark against American ideals of republican democracy for a long, long time. History will not serve these politicians or their operatives well.

Science has served American interests well because we have allowed people to freely investigate almost any problem dealing with the world we see. Now these politicos want to limit that free investigation and demonstrate to scientists that if they wish to examine certain problems there will be real life-changing consequences if the results do not match what the politicians want to see.

This will only hurt our abilities to understand the world. Their efforts will ultimately fail.

Because as with the Vatican almost 400 years ago, E pur si muove! Mankind will eventually have a fuller understanding of the natural world, but these politicians hurt us all with their tactics – thousands of people died before they stopped their stalling approaches with cigarette smoking.


7 thoughts on “Political intimidation of scientists

    1. Mann and other Warmists aren’t scientists; they’re just venal, grasping pukes who corrupted the scientific community with idiot theories and then suborn the whole peer review process in order to further their own aims.

      There was a lot of grant money to be made garnered by fostering the doomsday cult of CO2-based AGW and they worked the system very well – until they got caught.

      Real scientists base theories on evidence; Mann and his sort twisted evidence and ignored contrary findings to fit their theories.

      Thankfully the world caught on to them before too much damage was done. Sadly, their perfidy has set back any real research into possible causes, anthropogenic or otherwise, of climate change.

    2. Vilifying those whom you disagree with may make you feel good but is ultimately unproductive. You do not attack the science Mann has produced, you attack the man. You choose loaded words that demonstrate that you will personally attack anyone who does not hold the same views as you.

      You have separated the world into us and them, and then feel quite comfortable attacking them with any means possible. That is not a rational approach for dealing with complex problems. It is a childish, schoolyard approach where the strongest bully wins, rather than the best solution.

      The use of intimidating and bullying tactics will not get us to a greater understanding of the world around us, which we will need to make the best decisions. That was the point of my post.

  1. I’m sorry; I assumed you had educated yourself enough to have the background data necessary so that I didn’t have to draft a 10K+ word dissertation on the flaws in what passes for “Climate Science” in a blog’s comment.

    Yes though, I attack them personally because they personally corrupted and poisoned the scientific process and did lasting – hopefully not irreparable – to scientific credibility.

    They were also at least as guilty of intimidation as anyone Mann complains about since they suborned the peer review process.

    1. I can see we fundamentally disagree since the best scientific model for all the data that we possess is AGW. No other model or hypothesis provides the explanatory power for what we see around us. Perhaps it does not fully explain everything about the world we live in – few scientific models created by humans do – but it is the best we now have to explain current conditions and has withstood a lot of scientific interrogation.

      I have seen more misrepresentation of the facts, more misleading rhetoric, more irrational cherry-picking and outright lies from the blogosphere attacking climate scientists and poisoning the conversation than I have seen from the scientific community. I tend to not believe groups that resort to those sorts of rhetorical tricks.

      Again, going after someone personally because – in your opinion – they are wrong is why we no longer allow lynching. We have several systems to adjudicate these matters. Several different groups have looked at Mann and many other researchers. Nothing to support your assertions has been found.

      We will not get to useful solutions to the many problems we face by using the rhetoric of personal attack and bullying intimidation.

    2. Yes, the “best model” we have is AGW, but corrupt psuedo-scientists built that model and others in their community, afraid of the damage discrediting them might cause, failed to pillory them for it – though they did tacitly say it was wrong more than once.

      Is not suborning the peer review process and using the political “bully pulpit” as much bullying as anything they have supposedly faced.

      But no, we’re not going to agree and so I’ll leave you now. There’s little or no point in continuing this as neither one of us is amenable to conversion.

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