The scientific method isn’t what it used to be

I confess to being less of a “global warming skeptic” than I believe my fellow Power Liners, John and Scott, are. But I become pretty skeptical pretty quickly when I read that scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) – the ones whose email correspondence reveals less than a solid commitment to honesty in science – have admitted that much of the raw data upon which their conclusions regarding global warming over the past 150 years are based was thrown out by the CRU. They claim that the documents were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.
Without the underlying data, other scientists cannot check the work that gives rise to the CRU’s findings of a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years. As the Times of London points out, these findings “are one of the main pieces of evidence used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says global warming is a threat to humanity.”
In the law, the discovery of this sort of intentional document destruction would quite likely give rise to some form of “adverse inference instruction,” wherein the judge would instruct or encourage the jury to assume that the discarded evidence was harmful to the case of the party that destroyed it. I might be hesitant to apply this logic to the world of scientific inquiry were it not for the fact that the CRU scientists have demonstrated as little regard for honest adjudication of their position as your run-of-the-mill spoliator of evidence.
To be sure, the current head of the CRU was not in charge when the data were thrown away in the 1980s. Moreover, climate change was not such a heavily politicized issue in those days.
Still, Roger Pielke, the Colorado professor who asked for the records, is quite correct when he says that the CRU is basically insisting that we trust it, a demand that’s inconsistent with the scientific method for resolving debates.
One need not be a hard-core global warming skeptic to question whether we should alter the way we live in response to predictions based on findings that cannot be checked because the raw data was intentionally destroyed by the outfit that made the findings.

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