Fund me... but not Rick Perry.

Let's be honest, I'm not often impressed by the Republican Right. Or even the Republican "middle" - which is really just less-right.

But Rick Perry is on my radar with his stance on Global Warming. Not because I Love Al Gore, but because of Perry's line of reasoning.

From the Huffington Post:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry took his skepticism about climate change one step further on Wednesday, telling a New Hampshire business crowd that scientists have cooked up the data on global warming for the cash.
In his stump speech, Perry referenced "a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects."
"We're seeing weekly, or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what's causing the climate to change," Perry said. "Yes, our climates change. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed."

That's right. According to Rick Perry, Scientists cook the data.

But wait, that's not all!

The WaPo goes on to report the next day:
“They have seen the headlines in the past year about doctored data related to global warming,” Perry writes. “They know that we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists, and that draconian policies with dire economic effects based on so-called science may not stand the test of time. Quite frankly, when science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned.”

Good thing science is never manipulated or hijacked by the Right. Never. Never ever.

Now, I'm not saying scientists should never be questioned, or that science is always right, or that science knows everything about a given topic (let alone global warming) right now. There are too-frequent reports of people who have falsified data and lost their positions, issue retractions, damage other careers, etc. This is very, very bad. Even one report is too-frequent, given the nature of scientific research to build upon the findings of others.

But this is discovered through the process of competition, further experimentation, and peer review.

Not by politicians.

Just because a poll says a majority of people don't believe a theory (Global Warming, for example) is not true, doesn't mean that their theory is any more correct. Popular opinion does not a truth make. Ask Copernicus

It's the collection and evaluation of evidence - which can be a long, gradual process - that should influence our interactions with (and actions on) the world.

Perry uses general terms when he talks about these Scientists Gone Wild, if you watch the clip (at the end of the post). "Substantial number." Which then becomes "some cases". He points to the emergence of scientists that question the working hypothesis as evidence that the theory is false - thereby furthering the implication that the data is false and politicized. 

No, it's science. 


Scientific development comes from trying to prove or disprove a working hypothesis. Perry is merely taking the flip side of what he's accusing liberals of doing - that is, politicizing global warming - only he's doing it at the expense of science's credibility in the eyes of the public.

And I didn't hear any disclosures, Governor Perry. Come on, even "scientists" do that.

I'm not sure if it's willful ignorance, or a belief that the public is not interested in specifics behind his accusations, or the desire to capitalize on a popular idea about science.

And in a way, that's what's most alarming about Perry. His comments reflect a fundamental problem in the perception of science - which, in turn, leads me to believe this is an attitude he's likely to carry into the White House

The prejudice that scientists would fabricate data to funnel in research dollars doesn't bode well for the future of research in America. Clearly, Perry has never tried to apply for an NIH grant.

It's not about global warming, Perry. Sorry.

Here's a video of his answer so you can judge for yourself. The question takes a while and is hard to understand, but Perry is loud and clear.


  1. I love the kitties in a box! My cat loves to sit in boxes like that too. :)

    I feel awful for all the mixed up things that go on in politics. :(

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  2. I do find it kind of depressing that people think they can choose their own scientific truth.

    When politicians claim that scientists falsify data and are therefore not to be believed, they start falling down a rabbit hole of not believing /any/ scientists... which is why you find Perry urging his constituents to pray for drought relief. It's all he's got left.

  3. I just saw your sight thru HOCOBLOGS.
    I, too, am a Howard county blogger.

    However, I have a different view on Global Warming which I have described in:

  4. I find this attitude so appalling and so self serving on Perry's part - what I have to say isn't printable!

  5. Dale, thanks for visiting! I didn't actually mean to discuss my personal views on global warming, I meant to comment on Perry's view of science. But with your arguments, I both disagree and agree. There are definite limitations or problems with modeling - input, as you state it, is a great example. Another, that without careful control of variables, models can be misleading - increase the number of variable points and you can fit a model erroneously to a conclusion.

    But I do think it's a mistake to wholly discard the use of models in science outright - both from an expense issue (models help focus and direct investigation), and because there are definitely questions we're not equipped to answer (given the current state of knowledge, or tech, or whatever). In your example, the "fact" that makes the computer program not true is the "then C=5". If further investigation (subsequent studies) shows that, in fact, "If April Fools' Day then C=5" is wrong, then the model can be corrected. So what's really needed is an educated decision - do we act on what computer models generate with the information that we can measure, or do we do nothing until we have "facts" - either data built up over enough time to be relevant, or tech that will make said measurements possible, or both.

    I am curious - you do echo Perry's point of grant funding in one of your posts. Do you see the funding environment as fueling questionable conduct in research? (ie, sensationalizing results) How would you change the system?

  6. @Elizabeth - It's always nice when lolcats can be used to illustrate science. :)

    @Kat - Hah, if prayer worked in place of science I would have my degree by now! Not to say that I shouldn't start...

    @Linda - lol, I will have to hear it in person!

  7. Putting Rick Perry aside...

    In all professions, there are individuals of varying degrees of credibility who sit on different ends of the ethical spectrum.

    I don't think you can cast all scientists and research aside, however when it comes to light that data was falsified/manipulated, I think it bears taking another look at the issue, and the individuals who falsified/manipulated the data.

    May I suggest an interesting book written about global warming and climate research? It's called Climategate and is by Brian Sussman. He is a meteorologist and he explains what does/does not impact our climate and the research that was used to establish that global warming exists.