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Democracy is freedom of opinion publicly expressed.
Would like to express my dismay and disappointment at the 'blackballing' of eminent Professor Bob Carter from his role as adjunct Professor at JCU. A career spanning 31 years.
Carter's dismissal strikes a blow to freedom of speech, expression of ideas and rigorous scientific debate. And lamentably, Carter's sacking represents a victory for censorship and a closed society, and further highlights a disturbing direction the scientific community is heading toward today; one that's all too often driven by groupthink, politics, '97% consensus' marketing and a herd mentality.
Science shouldn't care who's right, who's wrong, who's controversial or who tows the party line. All science wants and needs to thrive and survive is the ability for debate and the free expression of ideas, new analyses, to challenge paradigms and constant reevaluation of hypothesis as the facts and empirical evidence change. These fundamentals, the hallmarks of Professor Carter.
The human-induced climate change debate, being perhaps the 'hottest' scientific topic ever, marks a critical point for the integrity of science in general.
Shutting down debate by blackballing those not aligned with the scientific 'consensus' of the day, is straight out of the 11th Century. It has the ability to destroy the fundamental essence of 'science' as a non-political, fact finding institution, which provides solutions to many of mankind's problems through open discussion of ideas, testing of theories and willingness to accept new information.
Silencing 'sceptics' risks polarising the public, making them truly sceptical of their scientific bodies and associated institutions. Hence that research grant for "early childhood ear-lobe cancer" may be looked at in years to come as "just another 'scientist' on the gravy train of government grants, as evidenced by 'that' great global warming swindle of the 2000's." The public's trust and interest in science requires the existence of scepticism and ideas from all courts, however controversial. Science is after all about scepticism, or so it used to be.
"Science is in a far greater danger from the absence of challenge than from the coming of any number of even absurd challenges." - Isaac Asimov
We are witness to the sad, dangerous and rapid corruption and politicisation of science from our most trusted & recognised leaders today:
"We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society" - President Obama
"I don't have much patience for people who deny climate change" - President Obama
Climate Change Is "Not Debatable" ... "I am not interested in debating what is not debatable," - Obama's Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
"For too long, those who deny climate change is real have muddied the debate; for too long they have hijacked this issue to pursue their own agenda." - Penny Wong
Our leaders - name calling, branding, judging and shutting down debate with vigour. Our leaders engaging in political propaganda and unscientific rhetoric to pursue political ideology and policy agenda. Is this what we've come to? Is this healthy for society? Is this healthy for scientific (or any) debate? What message does this vicious name calling send? What example does this set to future leaders and the youth of today?
Our leaders actions translate into the public sphere with political-science marketing terms '97%', 'consensus', 'settled science' and 'science deniers'. Groupthink idioms all playing their sinister role in warding off dissent, catching out 'heretics' and again undermining the fundamental role of science - to discuss, challenge, debate, test and re-test ideas and theory.
Contrast today's leaders and the publics emerging post-normal, political, groupthink, herd mentality with great free-thinkers and individuals of our time who have given us so much and taught us a lot:
"No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong." - Albert Einstein
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” - Richard P. Feynman
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” - Richard P. Feynman
"A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually."- Abba Eban
"Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had." - Michael Crichton
"Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should,we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite." - Eisenhower
Award winning blogger and science presenter Joanne Nova, whom I follow with great respect in matters pertaining to climate science news, views & analysis, outlines eloquently and precisely the harsh reality offered to Prof. Carter in the post-modern scientific world, as one who dared to speak "outside the permitted doctrine."
Successful education of future generations by rigorous debate and difference of opinion must never be challenged, pilloried or banished. But in fact taught and encouraged so that respected institutions such as JCU and many of Australia's great institutions remain leaders in free thinking, rigorous debate and most importantly maintaining freedoms of opinion and speech.
Democracy is freedom of opinion publicly expressed.
I wish Professor Carter all the very best in his endeavours and congratulate him for having the courage to maintain robust scepticism within a controversial and polarising (climate) science. A science that is polarising precisely because it has been hijacked so dangerously by politics, agenda, ideology and groupthink.
Science is all about 'scepticism' and I trust Carter's new book "Taxing Air" will add to the vast amount of empirically derived evidence which seems to always (if one is willing to look) debunk the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. Or 'Climate change' as is now referred (circa 2005) after the atmosphere stopped warming in 1998, much to the science communities disbelief and surprise. This latest ~16 year climate phenomenon challenging many scientists 'bullet proof' guarantee that increased human emissions equals global warming. Settled science?
Will leave you with this colourful and informative prelude to "Taxing Air" by Carter's co-author John Spooner. An 'Opinion piece' quietly released by The Sydney Morning Herald under the cloak of new years eve December 29, 2012….perhaps the Herald didn't want to waste too much time defending outside complaints?