....or the cutting and pasting unverifiable theories for fun and profit

Documenting climatology's fascination with regurgitation. Here is a popular example to get you started: Luterbacher and Jones borrow their text from the Mann.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why Bother?

Why bother to collect these various examples of cutting and pasting in climatology? My thought was that it would be interesting to see how frequently text is recycled in this very important field.

I rapidly found that recycling of text is extremely common. My subjective opinion is that this occurs more than in other areas of science or technology. At present, I believe, that climatologists are rewarded for cutting and pasting. High publication counts lead to grants, and grants are equated with success. Society is effectively being given precisely what it rewards.

I also suspect that in climatology, where proof is hard to come by, 'voting' numbers are believed to be important. Hence, in climatology there is much discussion of: "the consensus", "the vast majority", "overwhelming", "robust", etc. rather than "proof". A little of this can be seen in the famous "impressive number" email discussion between Mike Mann and Phil Jones, concerning Mike's application for a prestigious award on Phil's behalf. The unwritten sub-plot is that the award depends on 'literature impact' and that the award will be beneficial for future grant applications. )The email exchange is here

My suggestion to right this copy-and-pasting bonanza, if indeed one accepts that is a problem, would be to automate an academic literature database search and award academics points for the brevity and uniqueness of their text. It will never happen - but it would be a good application of some of those tax payer dollars in grant money.

Anyway, the climatologists do have something of a point. For example, I find the number of their cutting and pastings impressive, for example. It only took a few minutes to collect this batch of evident copyings. So numbers do count. However, normally in science people don't much care how original your text is, they care that your thesis is correct, your data consistent with your thesis, and whether the conclusions are valid. Repeated reiterations of isolated sections, like introductions, or favorite theories without proofs, are just incantations, or cargo-cult science, and are no substitute for truth.

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