A few thoughts on Climategate. | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


A few thoughts on Climategate.

A second thing one learns from working as a research scientist is that people in research labs resemble people in other workplaces. Petty fiefdoms exist. People stab one another in the back. Some people do better work than others. People will have different levels of respect for the work of other researchers. Some people rise to the top through doing good work. Others rise to the top through playing good politics (good researchers generally hate such people, but they none the less manage it). People at opposite ends of the corridor hate one another. If one is going to work in a particular team, one must work within the culture and beliefs of that team. In one's work, you often have to start with whatever the person before you left behind.

In scientific research involving computer modelling and data analysis, this often leads to computer models consisting of layer on layer of code crufted on top of lower layers that are not well (or at all) understood. Data does get lost, or assumed to be correct because the previous person used it and there is no real way to verify it. Supposedly impartial journals do become captive of a particular point of view. People's whole careers do become dependent on a particular interpretation of the results, and it then becomes very hard for them to back down. People become more and more certain of their results when the personal cost of abandoning them gets greater and greater.

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