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August 12th 2009 print

Joanne Nova

ETS Forum – Science bullies

There are many silent skeptics. If the ALP or the Coalition offered their members a silent ballot, they might be shocked at how few privately believe the dogma.


Science is broken, and you don’t need to be a scientist to see that.


Other industries call their critics whistleblowers”, but in climate science they’re known as “deniers”, or variously: conspiracy theorists, dinosaurs, oil shills, paid hacks, morons, traitors,  inactivists and delayers. This is not science. Bullies need to be exposed. It has gone on far too long in the theatre that masquerades as “the scientific process”.

The term skeptic, once a title every scientist would aspire too, has become so polluted by misuse that even skeptics try to avoid it.

It seems so obvious with hindsight: Name calling is not science. If the bullies had evidence, they would just provide it. Wouldn’t they? Instead they play an intimidating shell game to silence debate and distract attention from the non-answers.

Climate science is the first postmodern science to be corrupted en masse. It’s the only science with paid attack-dog sites to personally vilify any scientist who asks for evidence. The attack-dogs have names like DeSmog, and groups, who pretend they are science based, seem blissfully happy to support the ad hominem attacks. DeSmog is funded by a PR company who work for David Suzuki. Exxon Secrets is funded by Greenpeace.

In the early 1990’s Fred Singer was forced to use libel laws to stop Al Gore staffers from bullying him. He won the case, but how many scientists would be willing to face up to the uncertainty, the legal bills or the hassle, just to clear their name?

Recently Mitchell Taylor, the man who has caught more polar bears than anyone was ostracized from a professional meeting—purely because of his stance against climate change, and not because of anything to do with polar bear research.

The good news is that bullying is a brittle front, and once exposed it quickly collapses. We can see the first signs of this in the scientific in-house publications.

Scientists everywhere are starting to rebel against the unscientific bad behaviour. In the last few months 54 prominent scientists from the American Physical Society have written in protest to their own association; six professors from notable universities like UC Santa Barbara, MIT and Princeton have written an unprecedented open letter to congress: “You are being deceived”; Members of the largest scientific society in the world (The American Chemical Society) astonished their editor when many of them vehemently complained about the use of the word “denier” and the description of climate science as “settled” in a professional journal editorial. More than 700 names of eminent scientists have now been added to the list of public dissenters, and over 30,000 names are scientists signed a detailed petition against the theory of the crisis in carbon. It’s been done by volunteers, and it’s been done twice.

While the bullying is active people will keep their thoughts to themselves, but once word spreads, the tables will turn. A phase shift is coming.

I have spoken to many people in parliament across both sides of the field. Some have even donated money to my site (and not necessarily the ones you might expect). There are many silent skeptics (whom I won’t name in public until they make themselves known). If the ALP or the Coalition offered their members a silent ballot, they might be shocked at how few privately believe the dogma.

While the mainstream media has barely started to cover the gathering momentum, there is still time for some people to save face and get out ahead of the pack. But once this tipping point is reached, and everyone openly talks of bullying in science, no one will want to be seen as a follower who mindlessly believed an unelected, unaudited committee who supported their own junkets.

To be seen as brave, our leaders need to be brave. They must face the attack-dogs while the dogs still have teeth.

If the IPCC is in such a strong unassailable position why do they never speak out against the bullies?

This shell game and intimidation has gone on far too long. Many people are suspicious of the lectures, the censorship and the people who deny there is a debate, but they haven’t got the words for the reasons why they smell a rat. I’m giving them the words. Bullying is not science. Name Calling is not reason. Climate models are not evidence.


Joanne Nova is the author of The Skeptics Handbook