We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – dissent will not be tolerated

We couldn’t find a single negative review of Unsettled that disputed its claims directly or even described them accurately. Many of the reviewers seem to have stopped reading after the first few pages. Others were forced to concede that many of Koonin’s facts were correct but objected that they were used in the service of challenging official dogma. True statements were downplayed as trivial or as things everyone knows, despite the extensive parts of Unsettled that document precisely the opposite: that the facts were widely denied in major media coverage and misrepresentations were cited as the basis for major policy initiatives.

When dissenting scientists are implicitly compared to Holocaust deniers, or their ideas are considered too dangerous to be carefully considered, it undermines public respect for the field and can lead to catastrophic policy mistakes. It’s human nature to favor evidence that confirms our biases and leads to simple conclusions. But for science to advance, it’s essential that moral certainty does not override objective discussion and that personal attacks not replace rational consideration of empirical evidence.

Aaron Brown & John Osterhoudt

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – dissent will not be tolerated

  • FrankS

    Koonin’s book ‘Unsettled’ is a decent effort,and deserves to be taken seriously. Here are the final two paragraphs of the article linked to above:

    ‘Why does it matter that Koonin’s critics don’t want to bother responding to his arguments? Substantive debate is how science advances. If climate science is just an echo chamber, we may make perverse short-term overreactions to the data that have large costs and possibly even negative environmental effects. Many historical policy disasters have been caused by people claiming they shouldn’t have to engage with informed critics.

    Unsettled is about more than just climate policy—it seeks to free science from the shackles of organized dogma, the sole domain of an anointed elite, who feel justified calling their critics “cranks,” “deniers,” and “disinformation peddlers.” ‘

    Net Zero is a modern ‘policy disaster’. As is the Climate Change Act. Both need to be exposed as such.

  • Paul Marks

    What the establishment have done is to create a new subject “Climate Science” – and they now insist that only people from within this subject are entitled to comment on these matters.

    Professor Koonin is an academic and is no way “right wing” (having served in the Obama Administration) – but he is not from this new subject, so the establishment will not even read his book and feel morally entitled to smear him.

    A similar thing was done in France in the late 19th century and early 20th century – at that time French economists were probably the best economists in the world, and they correctly described the harmful effects of government interventions – such as Poor Laws, Income Tax and the other things that powerful people in France wished to create (largely to copy other countries that already had such things).

    So these powerful forces in France created a new subject “Public Administration” – and insisted that they would only listen to “properly qualified” people from within this subject.

    In short they would only listen to people who told them what they wanted to hear – not to real economists.

    It is the same with this new subject of “Climate Science” – to get an academic position in this “discipline” one must, nearly always (I believe the University of Alabama in Huntsville is still holding out for academic rigour), has to go along with the narrative.

    Someone could be the greatest physicist or geologist alive – but if one is not a “Climate Scientist” then one’s statements are not relevant, and the establishment feel morally justified to reject one’s work without reading it and to smear the writer – ignoring the quality of the work.

    To attack work without reading it is a terrible crime against science, against the scientific method (although it is not unknown in philosophy or literature) – and so is personally smearing the writer (playing the man – not the ball).

    But these are the times we find ourselves in.

  • GregWA

    Great stuff, SI, …thanks!

    Brown and Osterhoudt say this about Koonin in their article “Unsettled is about more than just climate policy—it seeks to free science from the shackles of organized dogma”.

    Well, Koonin is a respected, accomplished physicist. One who made it to Under Secy of Energy. So, he represents the modern, political-science complex, and especially the trend to “big physics”. He likely helped organize the dogma, maybe not in climate science, but very likely in his area of physics. Does someone know more about Koonin’s rise to prominence…am I wrong above and he is an exception?

    The upper levels of leadership in all scientific disciplines are very political, more so at least in their actions than used to be. Sorry if that’s painting someone I don’t know with a too broad brush.

    So, while I might like most (all?) of what he has to say about the Climate science debacle, he is likely part of the trend toward “expertism” that is at the root of a lot of our science based folly. Then again, true believers who turn on the cult are often the best voices against the cult’s origins/leaders.

  • bobby b

    There is hope. The Amazon rankings and reviews are very good.

  • He denies that anyone in the media, politics, or otherwise of prominence has claimed that climate science is settled. He ignores all of the book’s substantive points because the cover was the only part worth reading.

    Hmm. For my own part, the title focusses on the most important aspect of the whole CAGW climate hysteria and the wider point about science itself, that it is NEVER settled and more generally that when there is a general consensus of agreement among scientists ACTUALLY PRACTICING THE DISCIPLINE, it is because the areas of doubt / poor understanding have been subject to long analysis and often even longer discussion.

    Climate science used to be like this prior to its being turned into a political football by the Warble Gloaming lobby. It used to be a rather dull statistical field in which examining the levels of CO2 in an ice core was a cause for excitement.

    Put simply, the politicisation of climate science has brought the entirety of scientific discipline into disrepute by association. There is nothing that you or I can do to correct this, only scientists themselves can by pushing back against both politicisation and the dogma associated with it.

  • The Pedant-General

    “only scientists themselves can by pushing back against both politicisation and the dogma associated with it.”

    So basically we’re stuffed.

  • Kirk

    You can observe the typical track record of a cult by simply observing that which “modern science” has gotten up to.

    It all starts with the general population having a bit of a spiritual awakening, and noting that the spiritualistic aspects of life answer a need. This is the primitive starting point, and it’s also about where the state of science was back in the late 18th and into the 19th Century. That was the era of layman science, with “Gentlemen Scientists” discovering and applying the “scientific method” to all and sundry. Anyone could gain entry, and many did; Mary Anning is a good example. She did a bunch of really good work, and started from basically jack and squat as far as formal education goes.

    Then, as it became more lucrative and more of an institution, the gatekeepers crept in. You had to have a degree from somewhere to do “SCIENCE!!!!”, and you start to see the scientists themselves set up their liturgical profile in life, with their white lab-coated selves as these near-priestly authority figures coming down out of their labs with their stone-tablet Commandments from their secular God (which they basically created…). If you doubt what I’m saying, go screen the usual press conference for some new study they’ve done, and do a quick compare/contrast with the way various religious prophets have revealed their new Word of God. The comparison is often educational.

    What was “Science!” and a valuable way of looking at the world back in the “good old days” is now a calcified accretion of custom and belief, just like any religion. It’s all become Sciencism, and is no longer science. Look at the pronouncements of the prophet Fauci; do you see the slightest hint of a real reverence for Truth and the Scientific Method in anything that asshole has done? In his entire career?

    That which was, was science. What it’s become, with the crisis in reproducibility, is no more than another cult, with the full trappings and all the insistent cultists that merely ape the forms, and mouth the words of others. They don’t actually understand the science; they don’t read the papers, look at the actual experiments, do the math: They merely accept, on faith, the words of their high priests in white lab coats.

    Anyone with a smattering of history should have questions for the climate cultists. Mine would be taking the starting point about their endless whinging about melting glaciers in the Alps, and asking them how it was possible for the Romans and others during Medieval times to dig vast mines under the glaciers that are now melting out and revealing those workings. I mean, OK… Let’s accept that those glaciers have always been there; how, exactly, did the Romans and those other leather-clad primitives dig them under the glaciers? How were significantly-sized trees grown, by the local First Nations peoples, under all those now-melted glaciers in Alaska and Canada, which have revealed that they crushed entire forests in their formation? And, within the reach of historical times?

    The fact that nobody asks these questions of the anointed ones, standing before them and pronouncing climate doom? That pretty much tells me that we’re not observing science, we’re seeing cult activity. The subjects of it all are mesmerized, because they’re so f*cking stupid that they can’t connect the things they learned in school about things like the history of Viking settlement in Greenland with the bullshit being spouted before them on the podium. Nor can they be bothered to look in their own history books for extreme weather, and remember the little details like all the giant floods of the 19th Century in California. Oh, no… Everything today is what’s extreme, unprecedented, man-made…

    Anyone taking a single thing these cultists say seriously is a fool. Half the time when I read the background studies and papers, all I find is a bunch of sorry crap that a half-witted monkey with a lobotomy would recognize as specious bullshit based on bad math and poorly constructed experiments.

    Give you an idea of how bad science has gotten, consider those experiments a few years back where they set up cages with some number, I want to say seven, different ways for a chimp to get out of it. When put to the test, the chimps found a eighth, a ninth, and a tenth. All three of which hadn’t been conceived of by the graduate students running the study.

    Some people look at that and use it to highlight the creativity and intelligence of the chimps involved. Me? I look at that and I am forced to consider another question entirely: Just how smart are those graduate students, that their test subjects found three different ways to escape that they hadn’t seen?

    That’s modern science, in a nutshell. I think a lot of the old-timers, the guys who actually developed and honestly applied the Scientific Method, would be utterly appalled at the state of things today.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Kirk.

    When science was a hobby (of ladies of means and country parsons, and so on) ethical standards were high – and there was a lot of rigour.

    Ironically as science has become “professional” it has become “institutionalised” – with all the corruption of academic (and corporate) office politics.

    A lot of box ticking, an obsession with “getting funding” (understandable – as people make their living from this now), and less and less concern for finding the truth.

    All the wonder of exploring creation gradually going – replaced by “how do I fill in this form to make me look good”.

  • Kirk

    I see the whole thing as demonstrating a lot of the same syndromes and following the same trajectories of any religious faith transitioning between informal organic belief and institutionalized hierarchy.

    Subtract the names and the causes, then look at the events in isolation merely as events. Can you not make out the same sort of nuttiness in a lot of modern science as you see in ancient disputes over the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin?

    Look at the whole “Continental Drift” hypothesis history; it was dismissed as so much poppycock, as basest heresy: “Continents cannot move!!!”. Examples abound, across all of academia. Channeled scablands, here in my home state? LOL… They wanted to burn the guy who came up with that whole idea of primordial flooding after the last ice age at the stake. Today, it’s the conventional wisdom.

    Yesterday’s heresies are today’s shibboleths. Today’s certainties wind up turning into tomorrow’s falsehoods and misconceptions, laughed at in the textbooks, taught as examples of the old people’s lack of wisdom and general stupidity.

    If all that isn’t parallel with the controversies and schisms of old-time religion, I’ll just ask for my opponents in this assertion to tell me what else it could be.

    It’s all an example of human nature run rampant over reality. Yet again. Man isn’t the rational creature; he’s not even the rationalizing one. What he actually is? The delusional creature. We’ve somehow managed to get as far as we have with this fundamental deficiency in our characters, in that we cannot see things clearly or honestly. So, we keep making up bullshit, and that’s turned science from what was once a noble pursuit into a corrupt morass of wishful thinking.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – we do have reason, and we must make a choice to follow it. We must resist the temptation to make reason a prostitute – to make it a “slave of the passions”, some instrumental thing without moral value in-its-self.

    As for heresies – the theological analogy is not perfect.

    The Church did indeed persecute “heretics” and censor their works (“put them on the index”) – but it was also very interested in refuting them, the “heresy” would be very closely examined and refuted point-by-point.

    What happens today is, yes, the persecution – but none of the careful attention to the “heresy”, let alone point-by-point refutation.

    Today the establishment will often not even read, let alone try and seriously refute, heretical works – the “intellectuals” (who lack any real interest in rational examination) are part of a very anti intellectual (anti reason) culture.

  • FrankS

    The Net Zero Watch email newsletter from the GWPF provides regular updates on the mess being made in the name of Net Zero. All because of the polically motivated invention of a climate crisis, a crisis for which there is not a shred of good evidence nor of good argument.

  • Paul Marks

    FrankS – thank you.

  • Stonyground

    I think that any discussion of the climate change nonsense has to include a link to the website of Mr. Paul Homewood.


    This guy has been absolutely tireless in systematically debunking the claims of the climate alarmists. He also holds the BBC to account for their constant lies on the subject.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you, Stonyground.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The more that the evidence for catastrophic Man-made global warming fails to show up, the more this sort of behaviour takes place because this resembles a circling of the wagons. So much money has been spent, so many rules and regulations have been enacted, so many grants and positions created, in the service of all this. The ESG phenomenon, “Green” investment ideas from the likes of BlackRock, etc. To admit that much of this is a house built on sand (which is not sinking below any waves, mind) is just not discussable. And as said over and over here, this is a religion – one that fills the vacuum created by the decline of the Judeo-Christian faiths of the West and the collapse of rational philosophy in the past few decades or more.

    I expect this crap to last my lifetime, although watching the cognitive dissonance, hysteria and hypocrisies on show has a certain dark amusement value, and should provide fodder for plenty of satirical novels, plays and films.