global warming controversy

From: bivalve (bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com)
Date: Fri Jan 17 2003 - 15:33:24 EST

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    Science and Nature both seem to agree that Lomborg's claims are
    dubious but that the committee judging them did a poor job:

    Science
    A Danish panel decided last week that Bjorn Lomborg's controversial
    2001 best-selling book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, is
    "scientifically dishonest." The government misconduct committee also
    may be asked to examine whether Lomborg's views have colored the work
    of the environmental institute that he heads. At the same time, the
    Danish Research Agency plans to review the panel itself, which is
    under fire for its vaguely worded report.

    Nature
    Nature 421, 195 (2003); doi:10.1038/421195b
    More heat, less light on Lomborg
    A Danish committee has picked an appropriate target and misfired.
    Not surprisingly, last week's ruling by the Danish Committees on
    Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) that Bj»rn Lomborg, in his controversial
    book The Skeptical Environmentalist, selected data in a "severely
    biased" manner and exhibited poor scientific practice (see page 201)
    received widespread international media coverage. But whether the
    DCSD emerged with credit also deserves reflection.
    Lomborg's hypothesis that warnings issued by environmentalists and
    scientists are unwarranted, presented in the book rather than in the
    peer-reviewed literature, has been widely criticized by researchers.
    But what is the DCSD's authority to tackle what many consider a
    polemical rather than scientific book?
    The DCSD was the first European body to be set up ˇ by the Danish
    Research Agency ˇ to examine issues of scientific misconduct, and it
    is still unusual in being mandated to consider any complaint about
    any scientist, or any scientific work, emerging from both the private
    and public sectors. A look at its guiding principles (see
    http://www.forsk.dk/eng/index.htm) and its judgement (see
    http://www.forsk.dk/uvvu/nyt/udtaldebat/bl_decision.htm) confirms
    that the DCSD has the freedom to assess the case because, arguably,
    Lomborg presented himself as an academic and his book as a scientific
    argument. Appropriately enough, the DCSD emphasizes that it is
    assessing Lomborg's scientific standards, not his conclusions.
    The national context of this independent assessment is relevant here.
    Lomborg was made director of the politically influential Danish
    Environmental Assessment Institute, founded by the new right-wing
    government after the 2001 elections, solely on the strength of it.
    According to its own statutes, the institute must be headed by a
    scientist of appropriate research experience, whereas Lomborg has
    little additional experience.
    Lomborg's claims in his book are certainly significant and
    potentially influential. The Danish public, at least, has the right
    to know whether he is arguing on scientifically rigorous grounds, not
    least given the influence of his position.
    Unfortunately, the DCSD has left itself in a weak position. It did
    not conduct an independent analysis of the book but relied on
    published criticisms, especially a controversial selection published
    by Scientific American. Even to call this judgement's basis a
    'meta-analysis' would be too generous: there is, for example, no
    justification given for the particular selection of published
    critiques. Furthermore, through a tangled combination of translation
    and legalese, the committee's judgement characterizes Lomborg as
    "objectively dishonest" while at the same time stating that they have
    no evidence for what most people would call dishonesty: deliberate
    misrepresentation. That subtle, not to say tortuous, distinction has
    been lost in the media coverage.
    There remains a need for rigorous scrutiny of Lomborg's methods,
    given his prominence, his claims to serious analysis, and the
    polarized debate surrounding his book. But this episode leaves
    everyone little wiser, and the waters surrounding Lomborg even
    muddier.

         Dr. David Campbell
         Old Seashells
         University of Alabama
         Biodiversity & Systematics
         Dept. Biological Sciences
         Box 870345
         Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
         bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com

    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    Droitgate Spa



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