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Bullying in Climate Science

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  • Bullying in Climate Science

    Judith Curry has a longish post 'On academic bullying' in general, which she brings to a close at the end of her post, by focusing on 'Bullying in climate science'.
    Bullying in climate science

    Well, the legal example seems pretty tame stuff relative to what goes on climate science. But I like this example since it provides some clarity of thinking on the issue, that can be applied to the bullying problem in climate science.

    First, the issue of expertise. How many people who call themselves ‘climate scientists’ but have no expertise in climate change detection/attribution call out academics that are skeptical of the consensus as ‘deniers’, ‘anti-science’, etc? Peter Gleick comes immediately to mind.

    Second, the issue of less egregious bullying where people outside the predominant leftist consensus are considered beyond the pale. This one is rampant in climate science. The ostracism of non-consensus scientists (most recently Lennaert Bengtsson, see also the recent article on John Christy), both publicly and privately is bullying.

    Third, the issue of (undefended) personal attacks by climate scientists against other scientists (personal case in point is described on thread (Micro) aggressions on social media, subsection Hockey Sticks and Stones). Twitter has the unfortunate effect of legitimizing the one-liner insults, see #deniers, #antiscience; Michael Mann is a master of this one. Bernstein says it’s not really clear why we should take the attacker’s word for it. In climate science, its easy: argument from consensus; anyone attacking/disagreeing with the consensus is fair game for attack, when the consensus supports political decision making.

    Fourth, the comments clarify disagreement that is political/moral versus scholarly. This is the root of most of the bullying in climate science. Even speaking about uncertainty is interpreted as a political rather than a scientific statement by those trying to bully other academics to ‘conform’.

    Michael Mann has an op-ed If you see something, say something. I would like to add the corollary: If you say something, defend it (and appealing to consensus does not constitute a defense.) Disagree with the argument, not the person. Attempting to make someone’s scholarly reputation suffer over political disagreements is the worst sort of academic bullying.

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