Sunday, 6 May 2007

What motivates who?

The Great Global Warming Swindle claims that some anthropomorphic global warming proponents have a fiscal interest in the results of their science. Merchant's summary and counter-argument in slide 26
In in for the money
  • Propositions:
    • The research funding for "global warming" has increased greatly.
  • Implication:
    • Scientists want to perpetuate a myth to maintain their funding.
  • Fallacy: ad hominem (circumstantiae)
It is true that the evidence needs to be evaluated on its own merits (though I don't see a lack of claims about oil companies funding anti-global warming research).

It is also true that money is a motivation. And it can have subtle (and not so subtle) effects on people.

But what he doesn't mention is how the type of funding can affect research. There is a difference between funding directed at what affects the weather/ climate and funding that is directed to look at man's contribution to climate and funding that is directed at human caused global warming. If your funding is to find an answer then people (being fallen) have at least some motivation to find what they have been asked to. The pressures can be significant, funding can be non-existent elsewhere, and scientific fraud (in many areas) has been well documented. Not to mention the desire to make a name for oneself.

So money can be a motivation, but both sides must evaluate the data. It is too easy to dismiss your opponents by calling into question their motivation, it is more difficult to debate the science. Do not let an opponents lack of integrity be a cause for yours.

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