June 23rd 2007

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Foiled terror attack on New York's JFK airport

EDITORIAL: Making sense of carbon-trading

GOVERNMENT: Political appointments: the unseen costs

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Keating rains on Kevin Rudd's parade

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Realistic emissions policy torpedoed by ideology

GLOBAL TRADE: Leading Americans force a rethink on globalism

STRAWS IN THE WIND: More backseat driving / Scenes from the rustic bootlickery / Who will rid us of this troublesome priest! / A hot time in the old town that night / The media slave market: American democracy at work

SPECIAL FEATURE: Personal web pages - the dark side of the internet

BIOTECHNOLOGY: Children's rights trampled by medical Dr Strangeloves

MEDICAL SCIENCE: 'Scientific' spin on cloning unravels

RUSSIA: Russia's slide back into tyranny

Danger of downplaying climate change (letter)

Undermining scientific truth (letter)

Housing prices - don't blame property investors (letter)

BOOKS: MODERN SEX: Liberation and Its Discontents, edited by Myron Magnet

BOOKS: A VERY RUDE AWAKENING: The night the Japanese midget subs came to Sydney Harbour

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Undermining scientific truth (letter)

by Chris Hilder

News Weekly, June 23, 2007

Your editorial, "Climate change: don't spoil a good story with facts" (News Weekly, June 9, 2007), notes that "science is not, nor ever has been, about consensus, but about experimental and observational data and testable hypotheses".

I would like to explore this point a little further and suggest why consensus has been repeated almost ad nauseam in the climate change debate.

Since the 1960s, what has been going on is a redefinition of scientific truth so that it is now equated to a sociological consensus amongst scientists.

The philosophical basis for this erroneous view derives from Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend who, in a rhetorical sleight of hand, conflated the sociology or history of science (i.e., what scientists do and what they think, irrespective of the degree of logic inherent in what they do or think) with the philosophy of science (i.e., the logical relations that must hold between scientific statements in order for them to be true).

The result has been the redefinition of scientific truth into a sociological rather than a logical concept.

Hence, the climate change debate worldwide is based on a hidden equivocation over the meaning of scientific truth.

As a result, scientists and politicians can technically pass off as scientific truth consensus opinions that may in fact be completely erroneous. All that counts is consensus, not evidence, and that is why the word consensus is so prevalent in the debate.

Scientists and politicians can get away with this deceit because no one questions what they understand or mean by scientific truth. This is merely another example of postmodernism surreptitiously redefining traditional concepts in order to advance ideologies by stealth.

(Mr) Chris Hilder,
Queanbeyan, NSW

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