I agree, but that evades the question. The statement that the standard model predicts… may be regarded as entirely true, but it states a truth about a model’s success in prediction, not a truth about nature itself. Would the same physicists all say that “the standard model is a true, or approximately true, depiction of nature?” Not according to the people whose views I was reporting. They say that scientists don’t have the word “truth” in their vocabulary anymore. They say that science doesn’t deal in “truth” at all, and that people who are looking for “truth” about nature should look somewhere other than science. I don’t say that all such people are philosophically postmodernists (indeed, I know that some of them are not), but they do seem to be saying that truth is not even something that scientists strive for. Better models, better predictions, yes; truth, no.
And that is what jars, when we consider that up until about 100 years ago, scientists tended to boast that they held nothing more sacred than the search for the truth, that religious obscurantism must give way to the established truths of science, that when heliocentrism replaced geocentrism, it was a victory for truth, etc.
Meanwhile, at least some philosophers, historians, and others plod along, hoping to arrive at truth in their various fields. I guess that at least some scientists and philosophers of science consider this hopelessly naive.
On your first point, the fact that climate scientists may feel there is justification for exaggeration and anger when speaking to resistance from the uneducated public, does not justify their anger and dogmatism against highly qualified dissidents from within their own professions. I don’t wish to take the discussion here off to global warming, but it’s a fact that even accomplished scientists (like Judith Curry, with 150+ publications in climatology peer-reviewed journals, a formerly a gung-ho strong-AGW proponent, and therefore extremely familiar with the data and arguments on the pro side) are angrily belittled and demeaned by climatologists who disagree with them. If a pro-AGW scientist were merely trying to silence an ignorant heckler from the crowd, I would be more sympathetic, but when they try (as some of them have) to shut down debate even within academic circles, then they go too far. It might be that for public policy purposes governments sometimes have to act on imperfect information, and therefore have to pretend that “the science is settled” – but it’s wrong to say to your peer that he has to shut up and stop objecting because “the science is settled.” Anyone who says that to a peer has badly failed to distinguish between the need of policy-makers for closure of debate with the need of the scientific community (and the academic community in general) for complete theoretical openness.
(If anyone here picks up on these remarks, addressed to Daniel for the purpose of methodological discussion, and tries to start a fight with me about global warming, rushing to the defense of the Climategate e-mailers, or condemning Judith Curry, etc., I simply will not respond. The place to discuss AGW is elsewhere. My point was not about whether AGW was right or wrong, but purely about the faulty epistemology in the claim that “the science is settled” – especially when that claim is directed to academic peers rather than public policy-makers. The moment that some thoughts are forbidden, the moment some arguments by competent scholars and scientists are shouted down or prevented from appearing in journals for political reasons, the university has betrayed its heritage. That’s the only point I’m making.)