Discussing the pending tax deal in the Examiner yesterday morning, Thomas Sowell declared:

Let’s face it, politics is largely the art of deception, and political rhetoric is largely the art of misstating issues.

Sowell was referring to the misleading rhetoric of “giving tax cuts to the rich”, when the real issue is whether the government will increase taxes on the income of individuals and small businesses in the $250,000 and above tax bracket, many of whom aren’t in fact rich.

Another contentious issue these days that is laden with misleading rhetoric is America’s energy policy. This Tuesday the administration launched a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative , a renewable energy mandate is currently pending in the Senate, and excessive, irrational risk aversion seems to determine America’s position on offshore-drilling.

Much of the public support for renewable energy promotion stems from the unfounded perception that we can stop climate change, if only we try hard enough. This view arises as many claim they have “scientific evidence” supporting it.  As sad as it is, science is not what many make it out to be. Climate science has become increasingly politicized.

Slate author, Daniel Sarewitz, discusses the potential link between the majority of scientists affiliating with the Democratic Party, and the tendency of climate science towards proposing big government solutions to climate change:

Yet, partisan politics aside, why should it matter that there are so few Republican scientists? After all, it’s the scientific facts that matter, and facts aren’t blue or red.  

Well, that’s not quite right. Consider the case of climate change, of which beliefs are astonishingly polarized according to party affiliation and ideology. A March 2010 Gallup poll showed that 66 percent of Democrats (and 74 percent of liberals) say the effects of global warming are already occurring, as opposed to 31 percent of Republicans. Does that mean that Democrats are more than twice as likely to accept and understand the scientific truth of the matter? And that Republicans are dominated by scientifically illiterate yahoos and corporate shills willing to sacrifice the planet for short-term economic and political gain?  

Or could it be that disagreements over climate change are essentially political-and that science is just carried along for the ride? For 20 years, evidence about global warming has been directly and explicitly linked to a set of policy responses demanding international governance regimes, large-scale social engineering, and the redistribution of wealth. These are the sort of things that most Democrats welcome, and most Republicans hate. No wonder the Republicans are suspicious of the science.  

Recent evidence indicates that today’s climate science is largely the art of deception, and scientific rhetoric is largely the art of misstating issue. Just about over a year ago, the news proclaimed that the Climategate scandal was the worst scientific scandal of our generation. The Cato Institute released a paper shortly after the scandal made headlines, interpreting it as “scientific misconduct:”  

In the area of climate policy, recent revelations of e-mails from the government-sponsored Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia reveal a pattern of data suppression, manipulation of results, and efforts to intimidate journal editors to suppress contradictory studies that indicate that scientific misconduct has been used intentionally to manipulate a social consensus to support the researchers’ advocacy of addressing a problem that may or may not exist.  

While the scientific misconduct of the Climategate scandal made headlines, there are subtler issues affecting the scientific community which lead to climate science’s tendency towards political advocacy. In 1962, Michael Polanyi, published The Republic of Science, in which he suggested that:

… the  community of  scientists  is organized  in a way which  resembles certain  features  of a  body politic and works according  to  economic  principles  similar  to  those  by  which  the  production  of material goods is regulated.


The  decisions of  a  scientist  choosing  a  problem  and  pursuing  it  to  the  exclusion  of  other  possible  avenues  of  inquiry  may  be  said  to  have  an  economic character.  For  his  decisions  are  designed  to produce  the highest possible result  by the  use  of a  limited  stock  of  intellectual  and material  resources.

Scientists, while partially motivated by intellectual achievements, are also interested in fame and fortune. As rational, self-interested individuals, scientists are attracted to research funding and to delivering results which will increase their standing in the scientific community. The prospects of receiving government funding for scientific pursuits provides incentives to pursue research projects that are of interest to government. As scientists try to appeal to government bureaucrats who make funding decisions, science becomes increasingly politicized. These adverse incentives are another reason I am opposed to increasing government spending on energy research even further. It’s bad enough as it is.