To Curry, the damage comes not from the skeptics’ critiques themselves, most of which are questionable, but from the scientific community’s responses to them—much as deaths from virulent flu come not from the virus but from the immune system’s violent overreaction. Curry remarks that she has been a victim of this herself, spurned by her colleagues for her outreach efforts (although she adds that she has not been damaged professionally and continues to publish). “She’s been hugely criticized by the climate science community,” McIntyre says, “for not maintaining the fatwa [against talking to outsiders].”
Some disinterested commentators agree. One is S. Alexander Haslam, an expert in organizational psychology at the University of Exeter in England. The climate community, he says, is engaging in classic black sheep syndrome: members of a group may be annoyed by public criticism from outsiders, but they reserve their greatest anger for insiders who side with outsiders. By treating Curry as a pariah, Haslam says, scientists are only enhancing her reputation as some kind of renegade who speaks truth to power. Even if she is substantially wrong, it is not in the interests of climate scientists to treat Curry as merely an annoyance or a distraction. “I think her criticisms are damaging,” Haslam says. “But in a way, that’s a consequence of failing to acknowledge that all science has these political dynamics.”
To me, this is the only important point in the public debates about science: the result of scientific inquiry is not truth; it is not something close to truth; it is not something like truth; it is speculation, no matter what the degrees of probability and error are. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to kowtow to any propagator of “scientific truth” who cannot demonstrate a specific, concrete, and immediate consequence of his speculations. Everyone who believes otherwise (that is, everyone who preaches about the necessity of unquestioning obedience to the Will of Science) is to me no better than any other brainwashed, paranoid schizophrenic, socially maladjusted cultist.