Why Scientists Sometimes Lie

The problem with the “scientific consensus” on global warming is that participants in the debate are not objective.

In other areas of science, it is assumed without question that researchers will follow the evidence wherever it leads with an open mind that is neutral as to the outcome. That is not the case with global warming. Unlike other scientific questions, the answer to whether humans are causing dangerous global warming has massive political implications for economic and social policy.

Scientists are human beings with political and ideological preferences just like the rest of us. If a scientist has a strong preference for a certain political ideology, and that ideology will either be advanced or inhibited based on the results of his research, it is reasonable to view his interpretation of the data with an increased level of skepticism.

If anthropogenic global warming is accepted as real, it will produce wide ranging political and economic changes that have been long advocated by the political left. There will be massive tax increases and much stricter regulation of business.

It should therefore be no surprise that almost all non-scientists who are on the political left insist that global warming is real and use it as an indictment of free market capitalism and the traditional American lifestyle based on consumerism. In the same way, almost all non-scientists who are on the political right insist that global warming is nothing more than liberal hysteria.

On both sides, their conclusions are not based on an impartial evaluation of the data. Neither Al Gore nor Rush Limbaugh are competent to assess the accuracy of a sophisticated computer climate model. Yet they both believe with absolute certainty.

Flawed human beings will always tend to interpret information in such a way that it reinforces our pre-existing ideological preferences or self interest. Given the huge amounts of funding involved, professional standing in academia and personal political preferences, it would be foolish to assume that scientists are not subject to the same failing.

I do not claim that scientists who support anthropogenic global warming are wrong, merely that it is unwise to massively reorder our society based on interpretations of extraordinarily complex data conducted by people who are not neutral as to the result.

When scientists who believe in global warming stop calling colleagues who disagree with them “Flat Earthers” and “Neanderthals”, or insist that “the debate is over” and therefore it is illegitimate to question them, then I may be willing to listen to their arguments. Not until then.