Seeking Mertonian Norms in Global Warming Studies

There is an interesting set of understandings of how Science ought to be conducted. These are the basis of the psychology and ethics of Science as I have learned it. The seem, to me, to be sorely lacking in what passes for Science in the world of “climate science”.

The two key words are “Mertonian” and “cudos”.

Mertonian norms

CUDOS is an acronym used to denote principles that should guide good scientific research. According to the CUDOS principles, the scientific ethos should be governed by Communalism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, Originality and Skepticism.

Notice in particular that “Skepticism”…which I’ve bolded… kind of makes being called a skeptic as a derisive term a bit of an indicator that someone is out of touch with how Science is expected to work…

CUDOS is based on the Mertonian norms introduced in 1942 by Robert K. Merton. Merton described “four sets of institutional imperatives [comprising] the ethos of modern science”: “universalism, communism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism.” These four terms could already be arranged to form CUDOS, but “originality” was not part of Merton’s list.

In contemporary academic debate the modified definition outlined below is the most widely used (e.g. Ziman 2000).

Communalism all scientists should have equal access to scientific goods (intellectual property) and there should be a sense of common ownership in order to promote collective collaboration, secrecy is the opposite of this norm.

Well. All those “not sharing data or code” moments from Jones, UEA, et. al. come to mind. Not meeting even the first criteria. I’d also add a wet raspberry at all those pay walled publications…

Universalism all scientists can contribute to science regardless of race, nationality, culture, or gender.

And here I’d add “level of acceptance by the Established Illuminati of the field”. Though perhaps that fits under “culture”. I’m definitely from a different culture then them. That is, amateurs can do Science just fine, thank you very much. Universalism, to be really universal, IMHO, must also extend to those folks not degreed or published in the field.

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
n. A person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession.

From the first entry of the first definition of the first listing, it calls out specifically science.

Kind of puts all those “appeal to authority” arguments from the Warmers in perspective as non-Mertonian, doesn’t it?

Back at the original link:

Disinterestedness according to which scientists are supposed to act for the benefit of a common scientific enterprise, rather than for personal gain.

OMG! Given the $Billions being sucked out of granting institutions (often as political patronage via government “guidance”) and given the extremely vocal and very non-disinterested advocacy shouted at our faces, this one is just so “blown” it is beyond description. Hardly any “disinterested” characters at all on the Warmers Bandwagon.

Organized Skepticism Skepticism means that scientific claims must be exposed to critical scrutiny before being accepted.

Well, the only “Organized Skepticism” comes from outside the Church Of Global Warming Dogma and from a very unorganized rabble of folks with essentially no funding. Despite the shouted propaganda claims that Skeptics are funded by “big oil”, the reality is that far more oil money flows to The Warming Cause than ever made it to Skeptics. By and large the Skeptics come from completely non-funded or self-funded areas, or get at most an occasional small grant or two from established granting agencies to their established schools ( Dr. Soon comes to mind). For which they are promptly vilified and attacked.

The funding arena is horridly lopsided toward The Warming Cause and the methods used to keep it that way are strictly Saul Alinsky.

I’d count this as one of THE most strongly violated of the Mertonian Norms by the Warmers.

The Wiki includes a list of “coutnernorms” with a heading saying they might be removed, so I’m quoting them here just to preserve them. To me they are pretty obvious.

As a balance to the Mertonian norms, the following counter-norms are often discussed

Solitariness (secrecy, miserism) is often used to keep findings secret in order to be able to claim patent rights, and in order to ensure primacy when published.

Particularism is the assertion that whilst in theory there are no boundaries to people contributing to the body of knowledge, in practice this is a real issue, particularly when you consider the ratio of researchers in rich countries compared with those in poor countries, but this can be extended to other forms of diversity. In addition, scientists do judge contributions to science by their personal knowledge of the researcher.

Interestedness arises because scientists have genuine interests at stake in the reception of their research. Well received papers can have good prospects for their careers, whereas as conversely, being discredited can undermine the reception of future publications.

Dogmatism because careers are built upon a particular premise (theory) being true which creates a paradox when it comes to asserting scientific explanations.

Also, an interesting, if a bit long, look at the norms in practice and how to extend them to things like Administration is here:

I suspect that the lack of these norms in Administration (and especially in large Grant Bestowing Organizations) is a major problem.

So What?

So what’s a person to do? I don’t have a good answer. I do think this needs to be put, directly, into the face of the most vocal on the Warmers side. They ought to be challenged directly on conformance to Mertonian Norms and if they fail, no kudos for lack of CUDOS.

Will it happen? Not likely. Government driven “research” is about social control. Most large “charitable organizations” have been widely parasitised by folks with a Progressive agenda and a desire to push Global Warming for social control purposes (this is evidenced by the specific behaviours of the Agenda 21 folks in pushing for widespread action to take over organs of control, even local government boards, to push The Agenda and it is evidenced by their behaviours). So as long as there is any chance at all that their goal of control can be reached, the push will stay in place and Science and Mertonian Norms be damned.

Only when it is absolutely clear that this is a busted flush and the hunt for the guilty begins will there be a backing off. (Though do be aware that Progressives, Socialists, Communists, etc. never quit. They just hide for a while and try again in different ways and different scales.) So don’t expect The Club Of Rome, Maurice Strong, and others to just quit. They have specifically pushed for a $200 Billion per year take from developed nations to be spread around via their Cronies. You don’t just walk away from that kind of money, science be damned…

There has been a many decades (nearly ‘generational’) effort to shift funding agencies and popular culture toward their goals. It will likely take just as long and just as effective an effort to move things back to a Mertonian world. Given the hundreds of $Billions on their side at the moment, and given the “top cover” they enjoy (see the white wash of Climategate along with other “caught in the cookie jar” moments that get punished with the reward of large new grants… ) it is a very difficult goal to reverse that. Frankly, I suspect a Year Without A Summer and a Dalton Minimum like event is about the only hope.

But I’m not all dismal on it. There is evidence that the Average Joe and Jane are not buying it. Some whole countries have junked the Global Warming mantra ( Australia and Canada look to be well on their way ) while others have never drunk the cool-aid. China, India, and Pakistan are building coal power plants at a tremendous rate, while Russia is eyeball deep in gas and oil production. Yeah, Russia was willing to play along with the show as long as they got buckets of subsidy money, but they are not buying it. So that puts most of Asia in the not buying it column. Along with Canada, Australia, and the US Population being marginal on the whole thing, there is some hope. (South America and Africa just don’t matter much to the global economy, so forgive me if I don’t focus on them much here.)

Mostly it is just the EU, Britain, and the Progressive-Liberal-Socialist-NWO side of the USA elite that are firmly bought in. Average working stiffs not so much. A popular revolution at the ballot box is not out of the question. (My sense of things is that most folks are just waiting to run out the clock on Obama and get someone with an America First attitude swapped in.)

I do have one small idea to add: Perhaps we can get the Mertonian Norms remembered and included in the expectations of any grant money handed out. Simply advocate that those government slush funds like the NSF who hand out $Millions include a stipulation that the recipients follow these norms. At least it might remind them of what Real Science is supposed to be like.

Also, when someone is busy slandering the Skeptics (or worse, calling for their incarceration or death – yeah, it happened) it would be worth point out to them that Skepticism is one of the Mertonian Norms – then, when they don’t know what those are, enlighten them ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to Seeking Mertonian Norms in Global Warming Studies

  1. A C Osborn says:

    A great “find”, the opposite of CUDOS appears to be SPID.
    Every Scientific organistaion should be flooded with protests they they are not adhering to Meronian Norms when they support CAGW.

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    A new paradigm might well be, shut off of all public funding for a while due to austerity measures. It has happened before. They might even get useful jobs after a while.

    I lost all respect for calls to authority after the good sisters at Catholic School declared that the Pope spoke for God and their dogma should not be questioned. But I think I have Always been a skeptic that examines things for myself. Lots of burnt fingers. ;-) pg pg

  3. sabretoothed says:

    Only Earth is resistant to the sun ;)

    [Reply: All the stuff after the .htm or .html can typically be trimmed from posted links. It is just info about you and your browser most of the time. So I trimmed your link. Some sites use an article number there, so best to check if not sure. ;-) -E.M.Smith ]

  4. Brian H says:

    Now we know what really happened to the early Earth methane atmosphere. So much for biogenic oil.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Brian H:

    To some extent, Yup.

    But as usual, I find myself “arguing for the middle”. For some reason, folks love to polarize. Personally, I don’t really ‘get it’. So I often find myself arguing for the “reasonable middle” with both sides tossing rocks at me. Be advised, I’m about to do that now, too.

    There are classes of algae, well identified, that can and do make up to 50% of their cellular mass as oil (tri-triglyceride type plant oils, not crude) when grown in a nitrogen limiting environment. Basically they “bank” the solar energy and CO2 as plant oils and wait for more N sources to finish the needed materials to do a cell division. This is very well demonstrated in annoxic sea bottoms as those algae deposit. Add a layer of mud and wait, you get crude oil of clear biogenic origin. (This is pretty well proven for North Sea Oil down to knowing when the sea had those conditions and how it happened). So biogenic oil is very clearly attested.


    We have many examples of hydrocarbons, some of them very complex, throughout the solar system and often in places with zero evidence life could ever have existed. So abiogenic oil and precursors are very clearly attested.

    And we know that a similar cloud of crap condensed into the Earth, so it ought to have gotten a load of methane and “oil” during formation too.
    (Which raises the question of how oil gets that far down, not to mention the oil found at “impossible depths” under miles of ocean and more miles of rocks…)

    All of which leads me back to my uncomfortable middle ground.

    IF a reaction can be both biological and non-biological it will be manifested in BOTH. We have evidence of both, and we have history pointing to both. The most reasonable conclusion, IMHO, is that crude oil and natural gas are both biogenic and abiogenic. So the “is so, is not” is kind of pointless.

    (Now both sides may commence their usual behaviour of turf defense by throwing rocks at the nearest non-self, that being the guy standing in the middle… Sigh.)

    Sidebar on Computer Size:

    While at Amdahl, an old IBM Mainframe Clone maker, I found myself arguing for the utility of the desktop computer for some applications. The Dogma was that everything could be done on a mainframe…

    While at Apple during the personal computer heydays, I found myself arguing for the utility of the Cray Supercomputer and the occasional mainframe for some applications. The Dogma was that everything (that mattered) could be done on a personal computer (or would be soon).

    The reality was that both companies would have benefited from less of a “one size fits all” and more of an “appropriate use” strategy.

    Oh, the stories… like not being allowed to buy a hard disk for a PC to assess the IBM PC Unix while at Amdahl. We were making a mainframe Unix and all indications were that IBM was too, and it would be very similar to their PC unix. Nope, can’t let the Unix group develop reasonable competitive profile / information… A year or so later when the IBM Mainframe Unix came out it was strikingly similar to the PC flavor… (We already had the PC for some other use, but buying any PC parts required a signature from a V.P.!, who said no.

    Shortly after that, I bought my first Macintosh. It was a 128k machine IIRC and had a “Mac Sack” to carry it in. Mac Plus? It’s in the garage… Many of us in the Unix group bought them as they did a decent ASCII terminal emulation and you just NEED that to make a Unix go; especially on first bring up / port. TPTB insisted that our 3270 terminals had to be fine since everything could be done on a mainframe anyway and our job was to put Unix on a mainframe… insisting nobody would need an ASCII terminal… “Unclear on the concept” comes to mind. We also strung a clandestine AppleTalk network through the drop panel ceiling space essentially bypassing another bottleneck in the I.T. department… who thought everything could go over coax to 3270s…

    It was absolutely hilarious to see the morning arrival / evening departure of the UTS Unix Development group… all these Engineers walking in with their Mac Sacks on the shoulder… As various management layers asked “What?…” and were told we bought them ourselves (rather than put up with their nonsense… ) Eventually they let us buy a limited number of ASCII terminals… And a bit later I went to Apple… Where I ran a Big Iron shop in the land of Macs… Sigh…

    I have a hammer, and the world looks to me like I need a: screwdriver, awl, tack driver, superglue, wood glue, Spackle and trowel, TIG welder, …

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    Sometimes a shovel might be appropriate. ;-) pg

  7. jdej says:

    EM, Have to agree with you about both things happening. After all it’s Murphy’s law – if something can happen it will happen.
    Also thanks for the reminiscences. So much NIH and dog-in-the-manger in companies.

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