The Wall Street Journal last week ran a fine article by Eric Felten headed, ‘New Episodes Of Scientists Behaving Badly’ that bears close scrutiny. Like many of us, Felten abhors the scandals that just keep pouring from our scientific laboratories and points to the corruption of the scientific peer review process by political sway. His assessment, like others before him, should prompt us to consider whether the intellectual elite of our age should champion a new Age of Enlightenment.
Felton cites Austin Smith of Cambridge University and Robin Lovell-Badge of the National Institute for Medical Research who argues that flawed and unoriginal work gets published and promoted, while publication of truly original findings is often delayed or rejected.
Felton goes on,
“Those who have followed the tawdry “Climategate” spectacle won’t find such allegations all that hard to believe. The more journalists dig into the internal emails of top climate scientists—communications hacked and made public last year—the more examples of manipulation of scholarly journals they find. Just this week, the Guardian newspaper noted that Prof. Phil Jones, then head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England, bragged about scuttling the work of scientists who might have called his own work into question. “Recently rejected two papers [submitted to scholarly journals] from people saying CRU has it wrong,” Prof. Jones crowed to another prominent global-warmist, Prof. Michael Mann. “Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. ” Prof. Jones and his defenders have suggested that anyone shocked by such machinations is naive about the ways of science. That’s not exactly the most reassuring of assertions.”
There is so much here that demands investigation. There are a good many enlightened sceptics now being heeded who will argue that, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, communism has found its new home in environmentalism. The Earth Sciences became a haven for left wing research graduates. Moreover, the environmental lobby has also opportunistically taken the shilling of a shrewd energy corporate lobby to form an otherwise disparate and unholy fragile alliance. We know this to be true when we delve into the background of Phil Jones’s institution, the CRU and the leaked emails that expose the extent of the hands that BP and Shell played there.
As a consequence the energy industries helped develop an insignificant proto-science we now call climatology into one of the biggest benefactors of inward investment of research funds. With hindsight we now see that those fat grants swelled the heads of self-acclaimed climate professors. They, in their turn, applied their pseudo-scientific dogma onto compliant and gullible politicians. In a downward spiral of repetitive ‘inside the box’ thinking the corrupting of the scientific method gathered pace oiled by the self-serving ulterior motives of key players within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UN’s IPCC has been infected at the highest level by energy corporation cronies for two decades from the days of Maurice Strong right up to the current regime of Rajendra Pachauri.
We, the skeptics, have fought back since Climategate. That was our epoch changing moment just like those American colonialists had their Boston Tea Party. I draw this analogy because these climate wars stand comparison to pre-revolutionary America where the future champions of fair and rational argument espoused the principle of ‘no taxation without representation’ against a monolithic and alien empire.
Today we are fighting against the imposition of unreason enshrined in a junk science-based green global tax regime that, if successful, would impose a new de-facto world government depriving nations of sovereignty, free will and democracy. We revolutionaries against moral bankruptcy and unfairness have been given our new clarion call to arms.
The great American Revolution drew its ideals from the Age of Enlightenment. Then as now, skeptic revolutionaries opposing the orthodoxies represent no single movement or school of thought. For just like our forebears’ philosophies, ours can often be mutually contradictory or divergent. We are of such a new Enlightenment where we uphold less a set of ideas and more a set of values. Then as now, the core of our shared beliefs is a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals.
No other period in world history matches our current epoch better. Just as the Age of Enlightenment flourished in the mid 18th century drawing heavily from the ideas of the late seventeenth century, where we saw the Age of Reason or, as its also known, the Age of Rationalism we are following a similar path. It is exactly reason and rationalism that today underpins the ideals of scientific skepticism. We are inspired to suddenly become internet-aware and electronically vocal to actively partake in the metamorphosis occuring in both the political and scientific worlds.
Suddenly, like a breath of fresh air, our outspoken dissent has blown across the somnulent misted eyes of a mainstream media now awakening to the falsities of anthropogenic climate change.
But this new Enlightment can be more precisely categorized as a neo- American Enlightenment. That term sometimes is employed to describe the intellectual culture of the British North American colonies and the early United States (as they became after the American Revolution). Our lines of communication are stretched thin but pervasively across the Internet just as those ‘minutemen’ stretched themselves out to all four corners of the ‘colonies’- to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and back again to our British brothers and sisters and Climategate’s heinous home.
We have no obvious leaders or political infrastructure. We may all be labelled (unfairly?) conservative and individualistic libertarians. Just as those United States, many of us proud are of our nations’ separate identities but are internationally united in our ideals of transparency of government (to be smaller, not larger), upholding the principles of the scientific method against evangelical ‘post modern science.’ But above all we are seekers of truth and haters of corrupt, self-serving politicians and eco-activists.
Politically, then as now, this age cries out to distinguish itself once again by an emphasis upon truth, liberty, democracy, republicanism and religious tolerance.
That great Anglo-American cultural ideal for rationality against evangelical dogma is epitomized so well in the ‘The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology’ by Thomas Paine. There is much we can learn from him.
Two hundred years on and his words of caution are just as wise today as they were then,
“[false religions] appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”
[Paine, ‘The Age of Reason ‘( revised: 1974), 50].
Climate alarmists, in particular, should read him carefully. Because Paine cautions us to maintain the same rules of logic and standards of evidence in all things and to not merely trust the words of others – we must be shown proof or condemn the doomsayers as false prophets. Paine should be heeded most at a time when the deity of man made climate change has grown so grotesque and pernicious;
“lest in the general wreck of superstition, of false systems of government and false theology, we lose sight of morality, of humanity and of the theology that is true.” [Paine, The Age of Reason (1974), 49–50].