Climategate, coverups, and post-normal science

Move over, Thomas Kuhn, here comes Jerome Ravetz with post-normal science.

There is an important philosophical dimension to Climategate, a
question of the relation of personal scientific ethics to objective
scientific facts.  The problem is created by the traditional image of
science (as transmitted in scientific education) as ‘value-free’.  The
personal commitments to integrity, that are necessary for the
maintenance of scientific quality, receive no mention in the dominant
philosophy of science. Kuhn’s disenchanted picture of science was so
troubling to the idealists (as Popper) because in his ‘normal’ science
criticism had hardly any role.  For Kuhn, even the Mertonian principles
of ethical behaviour were effectively dismissed as irrelevant.

The total assurance of the mainstream scientists in their own
correctness and in the intellectual and moral defects of their critics,
is now in retrospect perceived as arrogance.  For their spokespersons
to continue to make light of the damage to the scientific case, and to
ignore the ethical dimension of Climategate, is to risk public outrage
at a perceived unreformed arrogance. If there is a continuing stream of
ever more detailed revelations, originating in the blogosphere but now
being brought to a broader public, then the credibility of the
established scientific authorities will continue to erode.

Read the whole thing.  (and do take a look at Dr Ravetz’ webpage; he ain’t some right wingnut.)


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