Friday, December 04, 2009

A conspiracy of cats

Left: A meeting of a conspiracy of cats. Oooh, I love conspiracy theories! Usually they're hilariously ridiculous and require that human beings behave in ways that human beings simply don't behave. I ran across a cool example of such a conspiracy theory recently: that the reason there are no papers in peer-reviewed journals disproving the hypothesis of human-caused global is because.... oooh... it's a CONSPIRACY! Yes, a conspiracy... of SCIENTISTS!

Speculating about a conspiracy of scientists is like speculating about a conspiracy of cats. It makes no sense. Every top scientist I've ever met is a legend in his own mind who wants to destroy all the other scientists so he can get the Nobel Prize that he feels he so rightly deserves. The mechanism that scientists have for doing that is peer-reviewed research in research journals, backed up by solid experimental design and data, that is fully replicable by other scientists. The fact that every contrarian anti-global-warming article in research journals has been destroyed when other scientists point to flaws in the design or point out that the data doesn't support the contrarian position advanced, while most articles supporting the global-warming hypothesis have not been destroyed is a matter of experimental design and data, not of conspiracy -- believe me, if some scientist could figure out how to destroy the global-warming hypothesis in a way that would pass peer review muster (that is, where no flaws can be found in the experimental data and method), he would, because it would be a guaranteed Nobel.

Note that such a paper would get published EVEN IF EVERY REVIEWER DISAGREED WITH IT. If there is a piece of science where none of the reviewers can find any flaws in its research methodologies, data, or the logic leading to its conclusions, it generally gets published even if the reviewers disagree with its conclusions. And why would the reviewers allow the paper to be published even though they don't agree with it? Simple: Because that gives them an excuse to write their *own* papers where they attempt to replicate the results of the original paper, at which point they get to a) say "Booyah! Dude was a moron!" and high-five each other and publish their own paper disproving the first paper, or b) mutter "dammit, I was *sure* he was wrong, but my results seem to back up his position" and *still* get a paper published. Point being, you get your own paper published out of the deal. Remember, "publish or perish" is the general rule in the academic world... so there is a *big* incentive to allow anything that passes basic quality control standards to be published, whether it backs the current consensus or not, because that gives more opportunities for *everybody* to publish.

In short, a conspiracy of scientists is as reasonable a hypothesis as a conspiracy of cats. Neither the mentality of scientists nor the incentives in their environment point towards any ability to create and maintain a conspiracy of some sort. If all you have is vague mutterings of some "conspiracy" by scientists as the reason why there is not a single paper in any peer-reviewed journal which disproves the hypothesis of human-caused global warming, then you're full of shit, and that's exactly what I'll say -- that you're a lying asshole who ought to be ashamed of yourself. Either that, or you're a fucking moron and should keep your trap shut because you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground. Whatever.

- Badtux the Scientific Penguin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.