Cooking the Books, from Elections to Climategate

By | July 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

What do the 2000 election and global warming have in common? At first glance, we might say nothing. But on reflection, we see something of fundamental importance. The underlying problem is not merely a dispute about the reality of the situation, but a dispute about the nature of reality itself.

In the early days of television, there were few stations, and changing channels required getting up and going to the set, so we usually watched the program to the end. Now remote controls make changing channels easy, and there are many channels, so people “channel surf” whenever the program is unexciting. Today’s young people “surf the Web.” And if a video game gets boring, or if the player is losing, it’s easy to switch to a new game. Meanwhile, reading continues to decline.

Most people who grew up before the 1960s grew up in religious homes. As adults, we may have fallen away from the practices of our parents, but we remember the truths they imparted. Religion often plays a smaller or nonexistent role in child rearing today.

Not having been taught that there are great truths, the current generation may also have grown up without appreciating that there are lesser truths. With no authority higher than themselves, facts become subjective choices. Truth is downgraded into how they feel about something.

● The 2000 election depended on Florida, where the results were very close ‒ but Bush beat Gore. Many people saw nothing wrong with changing the rules after the results were known, or with “correcting” the results to yield the “correct” answer. They attempted to deconstruct reality by counting “hanging chads,” “dimpled chads,” and even “pregnant chads.” (If a “pregnant chad” gives birth, what results ‒ confetti?) They pretended to sense the “intent” of voters, while changing the rules to obtain the “correct” result − that Gore would win.

The mainstream media told us that the people who wanted to continue “correcting” until Gore won were the honest ones, while the people who wanted to accept the “uncorrected” results were the cheaters. The ploy is to alter our perceptions, until we ignore what is actually happening and accept the alteration as reality. This works some of the time on everyone, and even more often on younger people, who were raised on fleeting electronic images.

But how did the “correctors” know when to stop “correcting”? When a researcher presented “corrected” data to Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate in physics, Feynman was sure to ask how he knew when to stop “correcting,” or if he knew beforehand which way the “correction” would move the result. A real correction gets rid of known errors. A phony “correction” alters results to make them into what the person wanted in the first place.

Weeks passed. The “correctors” continued “correcting.” Finally the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the farce. Nevertheless, some Democrats claimed that Bush “stole” the election, just as in 2016 they claimed that Trump did the same. It is one thing to be a sore loser. This expresses frustration at losing. It is quite another to claim you didn’t lose. This expresses rejection of reality.

● This brings us to global warming. Watch this brief video by Dr. Richard Lindzen, a leading climate scientist from MIT. It seems clear that there was a Medieval Warm Period, which was as warm as or warmer than the present. It occurred, like warm periods in the more distant past, without any influence of human CO2 emissions. Then came the Little Ice Age, also without human intervention. It ended about 1850, and then temperatures began to rise.

That’s where the trouble starts. If you take 1850 as the baseline, warming may seem impressive. But why take a cold year as baseline? If we take the Medieval Warm Period as baseline, recent warming is unimpressive – and exaggerated.

But that’s not where the trouble ends. The climategate scandal has yet to be uncovered fully, but already we see “cherry-picking” of favorable data while ignoring opposing data. We see suppression of opposing scientific articles. We see using data from weather stations near cities, which are slowly encroached upon by heat-trapping buildings and streets, while neglecting data from rural stations, many of which were abandoned. We see “losing” records before they can be examined by impartial experts.

What are we to think when a leading advocate of global warming admits there has been no warming since the millennium? Meanwhile, news reports of record snowfalls and record low temperatures are downplayed, but record high temperatures are reported prominently. Is it a wonder that many people are losing faith in the honesty of scientists, and in the integrity of science itself? Trust is precious, but very fragile. It takes years to build, but only a short time to destroy.

Global-warming activists warn that people will die. But the loss of scientific integrity exemplified by climategate already has killed people, mainly children. Thousands of children have not been vaccinated against preventable diseases, because their parents lost faith in anything scientists say. The parents are mistaken, but who can blame them? When scientists alter their results to suit a political agenda, they should expect to be trusted as little as we trust politicians − that is, hardly at all.

First leftists deconstructed law by disguising capricious decisions as “the law.” Next they tried to deconstruct presidential elections by re-counting ballots until the “correct” vote was obtained. Then leftists deconstructed the liberal arts by rewriting “history” to suit their agenda. Now activists are trying to deconstruct even the physical sciences by “correcting” climate data until the “correct” result is obtained − that is, a result that justifies government regulation of every aspect of life, from light bulbs to shower heads and toilets. But deconstructing the medical sciences is the final insult.

Many people do not merely disagree on what the truth is, but − consciously or not − doubt that truth itself exists. Then it is futile to argue about whether something is a fact, or even to call someone a liar. The truth is whatever the individual, or whoever is in power, says it is today. Tomorrow it may be something else, just as Orwell predicted in his novel “1984.”

Scientific journals are now forced to publish articles discussing the problem of “unreproducible results.” But cooked books result in a really unpalatable meal ‒ and one that can be unhealthful, even dangerous.

Elections, climate research, and many other important areas are becoming like video games. If you don’t like the result, just start over and keep at it till you “win.” If reality isn’t to your liking, “correct” it. If the facts don’t fit your agenda, just push Delete and fabricate new “facts.” Of course, eventually the outside world brushes aside our illusions and forces us to confront reality. But then it may be too late.

A long time ago, someone asked, “What is truth?” We had better consider our answer carefully.

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