Climate science is a Hydra

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Climate science is a Hydra, according to Mencius Moldbug:

So here is what will happen to climate science if Mann, Jones, et all go to jail: it will become stronger. Considerably stronger. At least, in the near and medium term.

What happens when you kill the top 20 members of al-Qaeda? Everyone in the top 200 joins the competition to replace them. Decapitation is not an effective attack against a disorganized institution. For every Mann or Jones, there are 10 or 20 ex-students trained by a Mann or Jones. Do not these disciples aspire to their mentors’ positions? Damn tooting they do! Moreover, just because they lose their leader, does not mean that leader will be replaced by those who are the most disloyal to him.

In short, any such involuntary circulation of elites will have a notably beneficial effect on the entire movement. The reader of the CRU emails cannot help but fail to notice what was already obvious: as scientific minds, Mike and Phil are most definitely among the second-rate. Why? They are leaders in climate science simply because of their seniority; they got in when paleoclimatology and climate modeling were (as they deserve to be) scientific backwaters; through bureaucratic ruthlessness, they made their field big and powerful.

Therefore, not only do these pioneers have many disciples, but the disciples were attracted to a hot — no pun intended — and growing field. Thus, they are likely to be both more ambitious than their sacrificed former leaders, and more talented. If Mann, Jones et al get the axe and become poison in any position of formal authority, even if they lose their jobs, even if they go to jail, their former students will continue to worship them (and exclude any of their peers who don’t).

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