Ridicule, Attacks Have No Place in Scientific Debate

May 20, 2010

Ridicule, Attacks Have No Place in Scientific Debate

Sensenbrenner: ‘Finding errors, critiquing scientific work is legitimate path to truth’

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, made the following statement during today’s hearing titled,  “Climate Science in the Political Arena:”

“Unfortunately, I have to begin today by addressing conduct from the Committee’s last hearing.
“Two weeks ago, the minority’s witness, Christopher Monckton, argued that there have been 3 distinct periods of warming in the past 150 years and that the rates of warming in each of these periods were parallel.  He demonstrated that both the EPA and the IPCC were wrong to claim that the rate of warming in the most recent period was higher than the previous two periods of warming.  Finally, he questioned whether CO2 was the most likely cause of warming if previous temperature rises were identical when atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were much lower than they are today. 
“Neither the majority nor its witnesses responded to any of these arguments.  Instead, they attacked Lord Monckton for not presenting scientific information—even though he clearly did—they ridiculed his name, and they wrongly accused him of falsifying his credentials and then refused to allow him to respond.
“I encourage everyone to read the transcript or watch the video on the Committee’s website.  It was bullying and it was embarrassing.  As Lord Monckton said in response, ‘a certain amount of politics has crept in on one side of this debate—and, therefore, inconvenient science has been dismissed as not being science at all.’
“I want to be clear that not all members of the majority stooped to these levels and I thank the Chairman in particular for his professionalism, but the politicization of science from some Members of the Committee is a legitimate threat to scientific understanding. 
“Sadly, last week’s hearing echoed the shameful culture exposed by the Climategate emails.  Climategate revealed a scientific culture that is more interested in defending its findings than in finding truth.  It showed some of the most prominent scientists in the world actively working to sabotage legitimate scientists who dared to challenge their work. 
“The Majority has repeatedly tried to dismiss the Climategate emails.  But no number of politically-motivated studies will change what the emails actually say.  I want to read a few quotes:
  • “I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same.”
  • “There is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the situation is not quite so simple.”
  • “If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU channels to get him ousted.”
  • I got a paper to review written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. (...) If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. . . . It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically (...) I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review – Confidentially, I now need a hard and, if required, extensive case for rejecting”
  • “I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
“There are literally thousands of these.  The emails expose an intolerant scientific culture and they raise legitimate questions about the strength of the so-called ‘scientific consensus.’
“The minority witness today is Dr. William Happer.  He is the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University and a member of the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.  He has spent his professional career studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases, which are the physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect.
“Dr. Happer has long argued that increased accumulations of CO2 will not lead to the temperature increases that the IPCC predicts and that the results of climate change will not be as catastrophic as claimed.  Dr. Happer is very familiar with the politicization of science:  Al Gore fired him from the Department of Energy because of his beliefs. 
“In a criticism of then-Vice President Al Gore, Ted Koppel said, ‘The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientists nor the people with whom the scientist associates.  It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth.  That’s the hard way to do it, but it’s the only way that works.’ 
“Finding errors in data and critiquing scientific work is the legitimate path to truth.  Ridicule and attempts to besmirch reputations have no place in this debate.”
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Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - Republicans
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