In past discussions here, I have often been accused of having too high a view of scientific “theorists” and of showing contempt for scientists who focused on “data.” I have been told that it’s unscientific snobbery to undervalue the empirical side of science, and the hard work and diligence of those who gather the data by which theory ought to be tested. Without conceding that I have denigrated the hard work of scientists who produce reliable data, I can certainly agree that theory alone is insufficient for good science, and that theory must be constantly tested against data.
In that spirit, I provide a link to an interview with an accomplished scientist (experience and qualifications stated in the interview), working in the field of climate science and in particular on the empirical testing of global warming models, in which the scientist explains, in calm and measured tones, without anger or hysterics, why he thinks that the data do not support many of the claims made by scientists (and others, including politicians) regarding the global warming (and more generally, climate change).
And just to clear the air ahead of time, the interviewer asks him point-blank, near the end of the interview, whether his research receives funding from the fossil fuel industry. His answer is an unequivocal “No”.
I wish all the participants in climate change debates would speak and write with the calm politeness of this scientist. There might be less animosity and polarization all around if only everyone could exhibit this kind of even-tempered, rational, and expository approach.
The emphasis of the interview could be said to be on: “Data, data, data”. That is, the scientist is practising the sort of humble empiricism in science that my critics here have said I don’t sufficiently respect.
I fully expect that many people here will take issue with the scientist’s conclusions, but I would say that his conversational behavior is exemplary. He tries to (pun unintended) keep the temperature of the debate down, by focusing on data and basic reasoning. I would also say that he is right to stress data, and that he avoids the error made by so many who write about this topic, by not confusing “models” with “data”.
Here is the link to the interview:
I post this not attempt to revive old battles about AGW, but simply to show that there are bona fide data scientists, and ones who don’t work for the fossil fuel industry, who really take data seriously, and whose notion of science makes data, and the correct procedures for gathering data, central to the scientific enterprise. I prefer this approach to science to that of scientist who is so wedded to his models (deeming them so clever and sophisticated) that he cannot imagine that his models may not be accurate descriptions of nature.
Is this scientist right or wrong? That’s not the issue I raise here. The point I am making is that there exist data-based objections to claims made about climate change, and those claims can come from gentlemanly, calm scientists (not wild-eyed and fanatical Fox News watchers and Trump supporters) who are not corrupted by corporate funding. He gives the lie to the stereotype, promoted by mainstream media and highly placed political figures, of the AGW skeptic.