While the controversy has receded, it may have done lasting damage to science’s reputation: Last month, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 40 percent of Americans distrust what scientists say about the environment, a considerable increase from April 2007. Meanwhile, public belief in the science of global warming is in decline.
The central lesson of Climategate is not that climate science is corrupt. The leaked e-mails do nothing to disprove the scientific consensus on global warming. Instead, the controversy highlights that in a world of blogs, cable news and talk radio, scientists are poorly equipped to communicate their knowledge and, especially, to respond when science comes under attack.
A few scientists answered the Climategate charges almost instantly. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, whose e-mails were among those made public, made a number of television and radio appearances. A blog to which Mann contributes, RealClimate.org, also launched a quick response showing that the e-mails had been taken out of context. But they were largely alone. “I haven’t had all that many other scientists helping in that effort,” Mann told me recently.
Italics added. Read the rest of the article here.
Ok, bear with me here: if I draw an elaborate Venn diagram encompassing “People Who Hated (But Did Not Read) Unscientific America,” “Global Warming Skeptics,” “People Who Object To The Term ‘Scientific Consensus’,” “People Who Reject Mainstream/Traditional Media,” and “Righteous Climate Scientists,” will anyone be left who agrees that this article actually makes some good points about public perceptions of science?
And more to the point, where the heck do we put the tentacle-armed stick figure on this Venn diagram?
Update: I love Mike the Mad Biologist’s reply to Chris’ piece.