Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Nathan Thurm Lives

Remember Nathan Thurm? He was the oily, snake-eyed, hyperparanoid sleazebag lawyer created by Martin Short during his run on SNL several years back. Round spectacles, slick combover--Heinrich Himmler meets Dewey, Cheatam and Howe.

Seems that Nathan has landed a job in the Bush administration, and it seems he's convinced that all the ballyhoo about rapidly melting polar ice caps is a worldwide, anti-American conspiracy (no doubt he thinks the French are responsible for spearheading the campaign).

This should thoroughly piss off those few remaining scientists in the legitimate scientific community who had not seen fit to go berserk already. Scientists publish their research knowing that readers will pick it clean, criticize it, reframe it, dispute it--you name it. It's part of the game, and it's what makes science go. Roughly speaking, the rule of engagement is, "You got another idea? Then show me your data." They've also grown accustomed to having their work ignored or casually discredited as "inconclusive" or "unimportant" when their results don't conform to any particular reader's social or political agenda.

But being accused of actively promoting a politically-motivated campaign to produce false, biased findings? That's a whole new ballgame. Whatever else may happen in the rough-and-tumble world of Big League Science, you do not go about accusing someone of falsifying data or actively promoting bogus findings unless you've got the goods. Real Grown Up Scientists place the highest premium on their integrity, objectivity and reputability, because they know that no one will pay serious attention to their work if their motives are suspect. This is going to go over very badly in the scientific community, and I suspect the Bush administration will find out just how badly in the very near future.

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