Thursday, December 3, 2009

Climategate: objective science or fraud?

There was an Interesting article (Nov 26) by Lorrie Goldstein in the Toronto Sun on Climategate. He opined that: “Big Government, Big Business and Big Green don't give a shit about "the science”, before concluding, “They never have."

Said Goldstein: “What "climategate" suggests is many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't either. Apparently they stifled their own doubts about recent global cooling not explained by their computer models, manipulated data, plotted ways to avoid releasing it under freedom of information laws and attacked fellow scientists and scientific journals for publishing even peer-reviewed literature of which they did not approve. “

Goldstein also had some criticism for the press: “Now they and their media shills -- who sneered that all who questioned their phony "consensus" were despicable "deniers," the moral equivalent of those who deny the Holocaust -- are the ones in denial about the enormity of the scandal enveloping them.”

What struck me was the similarity between Goldstein’s appraisal of global warming and the science used to promote it, and my own evaluation of the anti-smoking cartel comprised of government, the drug companies and the anti-smoker industry (also known as tobacco control and/or public health).

For example, earlier this year, anti-smoker activists published an article in the European Journal of Public Health accusing those who do not accept the causal relationship between secondhand smoke and lung cancer/heart disease of being “denialists”. It equated those guilty of such scientific heresy to those who deny the Holocaust.

Authors publishing studies which are not in complete harmony with anti-smoker consensus are often subjected to attacks designed to discredit them on a personal basis, rather than an honest evaluation of the science they produce. Disagreeing with the “consensus” makes them tobacco company “lackeys” and their science suspect.

And, like Climategate, there is evidence the science surrounding secondhand smoke has also been manipulated; the EPA study from 1992 being a blatant example.

Another Toronto Sun columnist, Michael Coren, wrote in relation to Climategate: “What is extraordinary is how few other columns and articles have appeared in the press and how little attention this story is receiving on television and radio.”

The same comment could have been made about the complacency (complicity) of the press in parroting the claims of anti-smoker extremists who insist that: “The debate is over, secondhand smoke kills.”

It's become a matter of routine for the media to refer to anti-smoker claims as fact, with no effort made to verify the integrity of those claims. Earlier this year, the press hyped claims of a new-found threat called third hand smoke. The “scientific study” turned out to be a telephone survey soliciting public opinion.

Studies claiming that smoking bans prevent heart attacks are given widespread coverage. But, in many instances, the studies have not been peer reviewed or published. In some cases, the studies haven't even been completed (some never will be). Criticism of these studies is ignored, regardless of the credentials of those proffering a contrary viewpoint.

But, the media is apparently satisfied to accept the conclusions of such studies without question. As far as secondhand smoke is concerned, investigative journalism is dead. If journalists would do a little research, they would find that the debate on SHS as a health hazard is far from over, except in the mainstream media.

Whether the issue is global warming or secondhand smoke, the public has a right to be fully informed of the facts; all the facts, not just those which support a particular or popular position.

Lorrie Goldstein closed his column with the line: “What about saving the planet, you ask? This was never about saving the planet. This is about money and power. Your money. Their power.” Uh-huh.

The parallels between Climategate and the hoax of secondhand smoke are unmistakeable.

Outside influences, politics, industry profits and the concerns of special interest groups should not be permitted to corrupt the scientific process. The public should not be manipulated into believing something which is still open to debate in the scientific community.

Unfortunately, they have. The objectivity, and credibility, of science in general is now in question.

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