Monday, November 23, 2009

She blinded me with science

Thanks as always to Tyler for bringing this "scandal" to my attention. I am using quotes here because, in my opinion, this is just business as usual in academics. There may not be such a blatant electronic "paper trail" on display, but protecting turf, punishing heretics, and rewarding your friends is the coin of the realm.

Take macroeconomics for example. Who is the premier employer of monetary economists? Yes, it is the Federal Reserve System. Who as a class of researchers really deeply loves them some Fed? Yes, it is monetary economists. Fed independence is taken as a given an as a desideratum.  Heretics (sour grapes warning: I am a Fed heretic) find it extremely difficult to publish dissenting views.

I have a piece in the JME on political influence on the Fed. Pretty good publication for me, but the paper took 7 years to find a home and the results in it were unchanged from the first version (which was from my dissertation).

I would go so far as to say that every scientific "consensus" based on empirical evidence is far weaker that it is made to appear via mechanisms like those described in the Climategate story.


br said...

This MAY be bigger than academic politics. Investigations are still early, but...

The IPCC is apparently a major house of source data; and they've apparently been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; and consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; and, tried to avoid freedom of information requests.

Anonymous said...

Decent piece here on the climategate scandal (below). I assume rather the typical response will be like that of Michael Mann--focusing on how the documents were illegally obtained rather than addressing the content of the emails.

As for the Federal Reserve and economics, this Huffington Post article was decent:

-After reading the above article, it is clear why your piece took 7 years to find a home. BTW, how do i get to said piece? i'd be interested in reading it.

D said...

I really hope the Fed does not pull the same shenanigans that the CRU dudes have been pulling.

ZombieHero said...

It's all because of the politicization of science. Once that happened, scientists become mere propagandists with a PHd. Same with monetary economists at the Fed.
I'm of the thought that the skeptics are the true scientists. Isn't science really just trying to find new answers to old problem and in the process finding new questions to ask?

Climategate is so funny because the AGW alarmists have been completely caught off guard. The face saving posts on realclimate are comical, most saying..."It's just interoffice memos, so nothing to see here." Actually it's real people that have an agenda they want to push, doing bad things when they think no one is looking.
Like you said, happens all across academia. Which of course begs the question, why do we put so much faith in the hands of clearly fallible human beings?
Perhaps my questioning attitude and skepticism of people in "power" is the fundamental reason why I consider myself a libertarian.

aem said...

It's a good example of confirmation bias.

Anonymous said...

I once read a really good, economics-based science article in a sci fi mag. It posited that there are no UFOs, no visiting aliens, no encounters of the 4 the kind because space is vast and the motivation for traveling such a huge distance to probe earthlings is non-existent. Economically speaking.
The first 5 commenters (conspiracy nuts?) need to ask themselves, What's in it for climate scientists to push AGW? Not environmentalists, not policy makers, not agenda-istas, but *scientists*?
p.s. Since you don't trust climate scientists, be sure to get your next colonoscopy from a plumber, and an eye exam from a gynecologist.

Anonymous said...


Conspiracy nuts? maybe you should read some of the emails. As much "science" as there is in favor of these climatologists findings, there seems to be much more in favor of discrediting the methods used to obtain their results. Your question of motive is a rather absurd one as it speaks to the motive of science in general. What motive is there for anyone finding any scientific findings? If you think it is merely for the findings themselves, then you're a bit naive. You could also point to the articles, books, movies, etc. with their names plastered throughout; how would they get extended grants if their findings came up negative? As for your alien example: while there may or may not be a motive for an alien to travel the vast arena of space to probe earthlings "economically speaking," (a rather absurd notion considering if such lifeforms exist you would know nothing of their motives considering you don't even know of their existence), certainly you can establish a motive for those who have claimed to see such aliens "economically speaking." just ask those who have books and shows on the discovery channel about the topic.

Anonymous said...

here's your scandal with no quotation marks:
they wrote the model to get the desired result. When the code didn't generate a hockey stick graph, they added multipliers tailored to the input to get the nice alarming graph.
Cooking the books like that is a no-no.