Scientific Potemkin Villages

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway come up with cool name for a familiar strategy:

This strategy of creating a ‘scientific Potemkin village’ was applied to global warming too. During the period that we scrutinize in our book, the Marshall Institute didn’t create its own journal, but it did produce reports with the trappings of scientific argument — such as graphs, charts and references — that were not published in the independent peer-reviewed literature. At least one of these reports — read and taken seriously by the administration of former US president George H. W. Bush — misrepresented the science by presenting only part of the story. NASA climate modeller James Hansen and his team had demonstrated in the peer-reviewed literature that historic temperature records could be best explained by a combination of solar irradiance, volcanic dust, and anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The Marshall Institute report included only a single piece of Hansen’s graph, using the fragment to make it seem as if there was a poor link between carbon dioxide and climate warming, and to argue — against Hansen’s analysis — that the real culprit was the Sun.

And we can’t forget the pioneering efforts of creation scientists, who are masters of the scientific Potemkin Village.

Author: Mike White

Genomes, Books, and Science Fiction

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