How to be a real sceptic: an excerpt from the blog 19 Dec 2005

file: realsceptic01.html
date: 25Dec2005


Francis Massen: (typing typos corrected)

I would be better off if more of the climate scientists were more sober and less alarming in their statements. Everybody has ample examples that alarmism (being justified or not) pays back well in publicity and funding. Non-alarmism does not. So we really have here a soft spot that in my opinion is more extreme in politically entangled climatology than for instance in plain engineering. We should just reflect on this: what if every major climate research result from the last 50 years (being it an impending ice age or an overheating planet) had been directly transformed into politically action? Would these actions all have been wise? I think an intelligent "wait and see, let the dust settle down and than act" behaviour is good scepticism, not boring "contrarianism".

Response (by Gavin Schmidt, typing typos corrected): 

I don't know of any example where 'alarmism' has been good for funding as opposed to media attention (and even then, that is the exception). I have served on many program panels where money is given out and in no case was money given because a proposal was 'alarmist'. In general, the money goes to the best thought out, interesting and tractable proposals, and since there are more of those than can be funded, it is indeed rare that poor proposals, even in an exciting area get funded. I don't think anyone advocates significant policy action based on individual studies or results - it is the weight of evidence from hundreds of studies that have formed the basis of the IPCC conclusions and that is what is propelling policy action, not the paper-de-jour in this weeks Nature or Science. - gavin]

 My ( Francis Massen) comment:

Do you agree with Gavin that the mainstream climatologists are sober and non-alarmist in reporting their findings to the press and journals? Do you agree that getting funding is equally easy if your research shows "no problems ahead"  than if it points to "potential disaster is looming" ?


here some links in support of my opinion:

1. Richard Lindzen:

2. Hans von Storch and Nico Stehr:

3. Margaret Wente: